God places a calling on all our lives. Sometimes it seems to come in the form of a big master plan, and sometimes it’s one simple task. But God is always asking us to do something. Some of the things he asks us to do are scary and out of our comfort zone, but, unfortunately for us, discomfort doesn’t give us a pass.
So, have you ever had one of those moments when you’ve given some really killer advice, and then you turn around and immediately have to eat your own words? Oh boy, did God get me. One minute I think I’m being all wise and mature and then I have to go and follow my own advice. My lesson for others was actually meant for me.
Hearing God's Call
A funny thing happened at church...
A few days after writing this post about following your calling, a family at our church was going through a difficult time. I had never actually met them. I didn’t even know all their names. But as members of our church family, I really felt for them, and my heart hurt for them during this time. Seeing as we didn’t know each other, I figured the only thing I could really do would be to pray for them from a distance.
During our church service one Sunday, I was doing just that. The worship team was singing, and while we were worshipping I was praying. An image came into my mind regarding this family. It was an image of Jesus standing with and supporting this family. I thought it was a very nice and comforting image, but weird that it would come to me, someone who didn’t know them. It would have made more sense for this message to come to someone who could share it with them.
Well, why don’t you share it with them?
“God, come on. I don’t know these people. It’ll be weird and uncomfortable for both of us.” (I am not terribly gifted at speaking with strangers, let alone giving people messages from God.)
Throughout the whole service, I came up with all sorts of reasons why I should not do this. Here’s how my conversation with God went:
“Maybe this is just my imagination, and isn’t really from God.”
Is it good? Is it loving? Yes. Well, then, it’s from God.
“Maybe I’m not supposed to share it.”
You’re not directly affected by this situation, so this message certainly wasn’t meant for you. It was meant to share.
“I don’t even know them. I don’t think I’m the right person for this.”
I asked you to do it, so you’re the right person. Remember what you were telling people?
(Crap...) “I’m not good at speaking.”
Write it down. You wanted me to use your writing, here’s an opportunity.
“God, this is not the anonymous internet audience I was expecting.”
Love the people that are around you. Don’t limit me by using your gifts in only one way.
And then our pastor began to speak about obedience and doing things through the power of the Spirit that we would not normally be able to do.
Okay, God, I get it.
So I wrote down the short message I felt God leading me to share. I decided to give it to the family at the end of the service. Then, a few minutes before the service ended, the family got up and started to leave early.
“Oh no, God I’m going to miss my moment.”
You’re only going to miss your moment if you stay sitting down.
Guys, I am shy and awkward and I hate standing up in church. Like, if I have to go to the bathroom halfway through, I will just wait. But this couldn’t wait. So somehow, I stood up, walked to the back of the church and caught them before they walked out the door, so I could give them the note. I walked back to my seat, heart pounding.
I later found out that the message really had ended up meaning a lot to them. Had I continued to resist God’s call and refused to obey, I would have missed that moment to share His love. I would have missed out on being a part of His plan.
A few weeks later at church, our pastor was speaking about Moses and the burning bush. You can check the full story out in Exodus 3-4, but here’s a quick synopsis: God speaks to Moses out of a freaky, attention-grabbing, burning bush that isn’t burning up, and tells Moses to go get the Israelite slaves out of Egypt, and Moses has A LOT to say about that. The conversation they have about it ended up sounding pretty familiar.
Why Is God Calling Me?
“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” – Exodus 3:10-12 NIV
This seems to be a fairly common initial reaction to God’s call – Why me? We think what God wants to do sounds super great and exciting, and is even something we saw that needs doing. But why should we be the ones to do it? Why would God choose us? What if we’re the wrong person for the job?
God isn’t required to give us a direct answer to this question and let us in on His master plan. But God sees the fear and uncertainty behind that question, and instead of explaining His reasoning, He reassures us that we won’t be alone. We don't have to be afraid to follow His call, because He will be there with us the whole time.
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:13-14 NIV
I don’t know too many people that thrive on spontaneity – we are often much more comfortable with a clearly laid out plan. When God calls us to something, it’s natural for our human minds to want to know exactly how it’s going to happen, what the steps are going to be. And of course we want to have a contingency plan in place in case something goes wrong.
Once again, God doesn’t typically lay out a step-by-step plan for us to follow. Sometimes we don’t even know what the end goal is – we just know what’s next. But instead of focussing on the unknown, we are to fix our gaze on what is certain: the God who sent us. It's His plan, and He knows how it's going to go down. We may not know the plan, but we do know God, and He is good and trustworthy and faithful.
What if everything goes wrong?
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.” – Exodus 4:1-5 NIV
The worst “what if” of all – what if it all goes badly? What if I follow what God says and make a fool of myself? What if people question what I’m doing? What if I start to question what I’m doing? Am I really hearing from you, God?
God gives Moses a lot of signs to show the people to prove that this is from God. But He never promises that they will actually convince everyone. Maybe it really will go badly. But it doesn’t matter what other people think or say. We just have to follow. He will affirm His calling, and remind us of who He is. God will continue to remind us that we are not alone and remind us of His calling.
What if I can’t do it?
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.” – Exodus 4:10-12 NIV
It seems a bit bizarre when God calls us to do something that we’re not particularly gifted at. Moses wasn’t a confident speaker – but he did have a mouth and vocal cords.
God has given us the skills and abilities to do what it is He calls us to. God will use what we have to accomplish His purpose. It is not through our own strength that we accomplish it, but through God’s power.
Not me, God!
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. – Exodus 4:13-15 NIV
The last ditch effort to get out of it – “please send someone else.” I kind of love this part of the story – I imagine God, sitting there, answering Moses’ questions, getting slightly more irritated with each one, until we hit this final plea, and that’s the last straw! “Moses, would you stop?! I have a plan, now JUST DO IT. You want to know the plan? Fine, I’ll tell you the plan! You happy? GO!” Of course, God’s anger is not as petty as that. I mean, He’s God, and Moses, a mere human, just told Him, “Hey, pardon me, sir, but I think you are wrong. Perhaps you could try again with someone else?”
Whether we understand God’s plan or not, we are not meant to question God. When He has clearly spoken to us, we are just to do it. We can trust that He has everything worked out, and has things prepared for us to be able to do what He has called us to do. He won't ask us to do an impossible task. We will be able to do what He has planned for us.
Answering God’s Call
Sometimes God’s plan isn’t easy to understand, and it’s easy for us to question what He asks and commands. But if God has called us to it, He has made a way for us to accomplish the task, and it is necessary that we do it. Even if we don’t understand why, we are the right person for the job. And while we act in obedience to that call, we can trust that God is with us in everything we do, giving us the power to follow Him.
Has God ever called you to something a little scary? Have you ever had a conversation like this with God?