I’ve been writing this post in my head for a while now, but due to the million other things clamoring for my attention, I haven’t actually sat down to attempt writing it until now. But, since I haven’t been able to get away from it and since I was blessed to attend an ordination service for a young man this past Sunday whose family are dear church friends which brought it even more to the forefront of my mind, I figured I better give it a go.
My younger brother is also my pastor, and from time to time in his sermons, he shares his testimony about being called to be a preacher. Though I’ve heard it on more than one occasion and though I was there the night he answered the call, I still never tire of hearing his story, nor did I tire of hearing my Dad’s story when I sat under his preaching all my growing up years. Every time they share their testimonies, you can feel the passion they have for their call. You can tell it has their heart and their soul and that they are completely devoted to it. Perhaps it comes from so much time surrounded by people called of God to a special work, or perhaps it comes from striving, and sometimes struggling, to live my own calling, but I’ve recently been fascinated by the various accounts in Scripture of God’s calling men and by how many there are. Some He calls to be prophets, some judges, some kings, some disciples, and others missionaries. Their calls are personal, unique to them, and they certainly don’t all respond in the same way.
When God calls Moses, he has a whole string of excuses and finally just begs the Lord to send someone else. When God calls Gideon, he wants to know how he, the least of his poor family in Manasseh, can possibly save Israel. Then, he consistently struggles with serious doubts. Samuel receives his call at a very young age, and his first assignment is a doozy. He has to tell his mentor, the major father-figure in his life, that judgment is coming and no sacrifice or offering can purge the sins of his house. David receives his call when he’s still a young shepherd when this same Samuel comes and anoints him to be the next king of Israel. It’s a call that puts him in mortal danger on multiple occasions and for the longest time seems like a call merely to wait. When Isaiah receives his call, first, he recognizes his undone condition. Then, he eagerly says, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8), but he still wants to know for how long. And God says until there’s nothing left. When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, it’s a call for them to leave their livelihoods behind. When He calls James and John, it’s a call to leave their livelihoods and leave their father sitting in the ship. When God calls Paul, it’s a call to suffering (Acts 9:16). Over and over, God chose to inspire the writers of Scripture to include God’s call to various people and how they responded to it, which leads me to believe being called by God is extremely significant for several reasons.
Callings are scary.
There’s a reason Moses immediately jumps to excuses and begs God to send someone else. The Lord calls him to leave where he’s safe and comfortable keeping his father-in-law’s sheep and jump into a role that seems so far beyond his capabilities. Gideon, too, felt completely inadequate. Callings are scary. Whether it’s the call to be a pastor or the call to be a Christian scientist proving faith and science are not mutually exclusive, callings come with a huge weight, a terrifying weight, of responsibility. They come with the knowledge that if you fail, you didn’t fail a mere man; you failed an almighty God.
Callings are hard work.
Because there’s so much at stake if you fail, because the call is so important, callings are hard work. It wasn’t easy for Samuel to go to Eli and tell him there was no hope for his household. It wasn’t easy for David to spend years on the run. It’s not easy for a pastor to comfort a couple who’s just lost their child. It’s not easy for someone called to be a missionary to leave their family behind and travel to the other side of the world. Sometimes callings look like sleepless nights. Sometimes callings look like working nights and weekends. Sometimes they look like feeling like you’ve given all you can possibly give and still having to find a little more to give.
Callings are costly.
After His resurrection, Jesus comes to Peter telling him to feed His sheep. In the midst of this conversation, Jesus tells Peter following Him will cost Peter his life but to follow anyway. Peter, knowing the cost, obeys. And, Peter is far from the only one in Scripture who’s call costs him his life. There’s John the Baptist, Stephen, Paul, and the list goes on. Your call hopefully won’t cost you your life, though it certainly could, but, it will cost. It’ll cost you time and energy. It may cost you friends. It may cost you a job. It may cost you your dreams, your timetable, your plans and aspirations… It’ll cost, and you’ll feel the cost.
Callings are worth it.
As I just mentioned, Peter knows without a shadow of a doubt because he hears it straight from the Lord’s mouth that his call will cost him his life, yet he follows anyway. Callings must be worth it. In Philippians, Paul, who’s suffered and suffered greatly (stoning, beatings, imprisonment…), tells the church at Philippi that he wants to die and be with Christ, yet he wants to remain because there’s still work for him. He’s torn. His sole desire is not to escape, which would seem perfectly natural given his circumstances. Callings must be worth it.
In 2015, I began writing Sunday School literature in earnest, but then most of you already know that. It’s what I felt called to do at 17. It just took me awhile to actually get started. Trust me; that call is scary. What if I write the wrong thing? What if I can’t meet my deadlines? Or, there’s my biggest fear. What if I sit down one day and the gift is gone because I wasn’t a good steward of it or because I got prideful? What if God took it away? Could I even go on living? That call is hard work. There have been numerous occasions when I genuinely wanted to cry because I was so tired but didn’t really have the time to do so. That call is costly. Ask me if I’m where I wanted to be at 25 or if I even know how or if I’ll ever get there, and you will get a resounding, “No!” It cost my plans. It cost some goals that weren’t bad in themselves. All that said, that call is so very worth it to me. In the midst of pursuing my call, God has opened up doors and provided opportunities I certainly didn’t deserve. He’s allowed me to do things I didn’t even think I was capable of. He’s been with me in an incredible way. And, when I most need it, He’s proven over and over that He is faithful to send just the right encouragement at just the right moment. But, more than that, in calling me, He gave my life purpose. And, that is priceless. There’s a contentment I never knew before For the Journey. That thing that was lacking that I couldn’t put my finger on isn’t lacking anymore, and I wouldn’t trade being called for anything in the world.
I didn’t share all of that to brag on myself. If anything, I hope it was very obvious that it’s a God thing, not a Sam thing. I did share it to say, if God’s calling you to something, you better answer. It may be scary. It may seem downright impossible. But, if God’s doing the calling, He’s already got it all worked out. You can trust Him. And, the blessings that will come from your obedience will be incredible beyond words.
In case you read this whole post (Sorry, I got a little carried away.) thinking, “But, I’m not called to be a preacher. I’m not called to be a musician. I’m not called to be a missionary. I don’t feel like I’m called to be anything in particular,” you’re called to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. You’re called to live the Gospel. That’s plenty to keep you busy. And, that’s scary, hard, costly, but worth it as well. You’re called. Living that call is entirely up to you.