How is God Calling You?
In last month’s column we saw that there is no one like you in the whole wide world’you are in fact number one!The amazing thing to ponder is that our God is so great, and yet he places such importance on each of us as if we are the only human being he ever created! It is this amazing generosity of our God that led David the psalmist to cry out:
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8).
Yes, you are so insignificant and yet so great in the eyes of God that he has given you a special mission in the history of salvation! But how can you be certain that God is calling you to a particular mission?
Let us begin by looking at examples from the Bible: Moses saw a burning bush and went to investigate. When he got close to the bush God called him by name, told him to remove his sandals and then identified himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob before he told Moses of the mission of delivering the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery.
The boy Samuel heard his name being called and thought it was Eli the priest who was calling him.
Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel. Saul saw a bright light, fell from his horse and was blind for three days.
These days it is not usual to see burning bushes, be visited by angels or undergo a dramatic Damascus experience like that of Saul who became Paul. Many messengers of God in our time do not exactly fall from galloping horses, but there are some for whom the impact of the call can be so great that its effects are equivalent to Paul’s Damascus experience.
For the vast majority of people, the call can come like a gentle breeze that turns your head in a certain direction and pulls you gently in that direction.
In our time, God has chosen to use the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to call his servants. It is the Spirit within us that directs us, and what we need to do is to read the signs and recognise the voice of the Spirit prompting us.
The Spirit speaks to us in different ways, but the following are some of the indicators:
First, when God calls us, he gives us gifts – talents that will assist us in carrying out our mission. He will not call us to something that is completely beyond our abilities because he wants us to find fulfilment in the performance of our task.
The American evangelical minister Rick Warren has correctly said: “The abilities you do have are a strong indication of what God wants you to do with your life.” When you feel you are called to a certain vocation or mission, ask yourself whether you have the skills or talents that will enable you to perform your duties.
The second indicator of a genuine call is what your heart tells you. You may find that at a certain point in your life you constantly think about a particular profession or way of life. So, pay attention to your intuition and listen to your heart. See that vocation, that profession, that ministry or way of life that draws you towards it and really excites you.
Third, pray to the Holy Spirit and follow his promptings. As you pray, seek confirmation of your calling by asking for advice from senior and trusted members of the profession. The prophet Isaiah says a time will come when: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying: This is the way; walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21).
You might retort by saying: “Yes, there was a time when I followed these guidelines, only to find out that what I thought was my calling led me to a blind alley.” What then? We will explore this dilemma in the next column.