At different times in my life, I have received a clear call from God. These calls require me to act; to step out of my comfort zone and serve God’s purpose for my life.
I wish I could tell you I promptly responded with willing obedience, but this has not usually been the case.
The first distinct call from God came in my senior year of high school. While sitting in church listening to missionaries from Cambodia speaking about their work, I heard an internal voice, “you are going there one day.” I felt a stirring deep within me and I knew it was God speaking.
Despite this clear calling, my initial reaction was to question God; “Really? Cambodia? I’ve never even heard of such a place before today, I don’t even know where in the world Cambodia is located!”
“Not now, but someday,” was God’s only response.
I tried to put it out of my head, but every time I heard Cambodia mentioned, I felt the same stirring in my heart. Then one day the stirring was accompanied by God saying, “now, it is time.”
God gave me 8 years to get used to the idea, but I still was reluctant to obey. I tried to plead my case, “God, Cambodia is really far away, and it is really hot. Plus I don’t sleep well in hotels and three weeks is a long time to go without a good night’s sleep.” God was not impressed with my excuses; he reminded me of Jonah, “You know I had a whale swallow Jonah when he refused to go where I called him right?” Yikes! I stopped arguing and went to Cambodia.
A more recent call was to start this blog. At first I wasn’t sure it was a call from God. Starting a blog seemed so random, so out of sync with my plans, so I tested it by praying, “God, if you want me to blog then give me a topic.” My request was granted immediately.
Even with this confirmation, I resorted back to my usual response of trying to argue my way out of his calling; “but God I am not a writer…writing is a slow painstaking process for me, plus I don’t know anything about the topic or about blogging.”
Again, he used the Bible to set me straight, “yeah yeah, I’ve heard these excuses before. I didn’t let Moses get away with it and I am not letting you either.”
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Exodus 4:10-13
Like Moses, I remained stubborn on my stance that he was calling the wrong person. Not until God closed every other door and window on me did I finally wave my white flag and surrender.
Do you recognize the pattern here? God calls, I doubt, I resist, we argue, and then I give in.
This is NOT a good way to respond when God calls, for 4 reasons:
1. It sets us against God’s will for our life, making our own efforts pointless.
While I was ignoring God’s call to start a blog, I applied for job after job in my chosen field. I went on multiple interviews, only to be disappointed each time I got the “we didn’t pick you” email. After one of these emails I cried out to God in frustration “What do you want me to do?” What do you think he said? “You know what I want you to do.” Yep, it was pretty clear, I had set myself against God and I wasn’t going to win.
2. It wastes time.
All the time arguing, and trying to do things my way, is time that could have been spent living out God’s purpose. After all, his way is the only way, and the sooner we get on board the better.
3. It keeps us from the blessings God wants to give us.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” Luke 11:28. Every time I act in obedience, I receive blessings. These blessings are not always automatic, and they don’t always look like blessings right away, but God always fulfills the promise made in Luke. A delay in our action means a delay in God’s blessings.
4. It keeps us from experiencing the joy of living within God’s plan for our lives. If you are looking for joy, acting on God’s call is an excellent place to start.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Additionally, God does not want us to just “give in” to his will; he wants us to readily accept his call.
He wants us to respond like Paul after God called him on the road to Damascus:
My [Paul’s] immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Galatians 1:16-17
Paul immediately went to where God called him, to do exactly what God told him to do.
He didn’t waste time talking to other people, or wondering if it was the right thing to do. His immediate response was to follow God’s directions.
What if our immediate response was like Paul’s? Here is what I think would happen.
1.We would be free from self doubt, living with 100% trust and confidence in God.
There is no room for self doubt when you take immediate action. No time to second guess your ability, because you are confident in God’s ability. Because of his confidence in God, Paul was able to say, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
2. God will do a mighty work through us.
Because Paul immediately obeyed, God made him the catalyst for spreading the gospel to the Gentiles. Additionally, Paul’s God inspired letters are still being used to reveal who God is and guide us in our daily lives. I believe when God calls, it is because he wants to use us in a mighty way as well; but he can only do that if we respond.
So are you ready to say yes?
If you know what God is calling you, say yes today. If you don’t feel like you have a calling, ask for God to reveal it to you. Let him know you are ready and eager to obey.