November 25, 2013

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,”Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”” Jonah 1:1-2

The story of Jonah will spring from the memory of anyone who has grown up in the Church.  I trembled before the flannel graphs of my youth, at the thought of being pursued by God for refusing His calling.  I learned very early that resistance is futile when God calls.  I imagine that my search for a calling from God may have started to germinate in those early Sunday School classes.

VLA  radio telescope - New Mexico

VLA radio telescope – New Mexico (Photo credit: alienwatch)

In fact, I cannot remember a time when my ear was not somewhat inclined toward the cosmos in expectation of hearing a word of God regarding my future.  I have so often felt like a radio telescope searching the divine for my niche in God’s sovereign plan.  I never received a calling as I had learned it to be.

I wondered why God would not want to use me.  I feared that my life was not qualified for God’s work.  What would happen if He did not call?

I acknowledge that there are some Jonahs out there; people who are running from what they know to be God’s direction.  However, my experience has been that there are many more slogging through their daily lives just waiting for God to call.  These are folks desperate to know that God has made a specific and relevant place for them in His sovereign plan.  They are willing to trek off into far off lands, to face dangers, and to sacrifice according to their calling – if that calling were clearly defined.

DISH HEADSPastors often will talk about their calling into the ministry; “The Lord has called me to ‘XYZ’”.  In fact, I have heard the advice of eminent teachers stating that a person who has not heard the certain calling of God is not qualified for the ministry.  I have heard recollections of how God has spoken to a faithful servant and told them to be part of a specific ministry; “God told me…”.


I was awed in my youth by the conviction of these special people who had the authority of God in their calling.  They were obedient Jonahs.  They had not run when the word of the Lord had come but had yielded to their part in God’s sovereign plan.  They had a part.

My awe has diminished somewhat with age.  I hope that it is not skepticism.  I have learned through the years that many of these callings were not what I had understood.  When pressed, many of these divine callings transform into descriptions of what I find familiar.  They describe something that is not as supernatural as I had expected or maybe I have been treading in the supernatural more than I had thought.

They will often explain an experience that I have known while walking according to the Spirit.  Their callings sound more like what I call leadings.  I have felt my heart inclined toward participating in a ministry.  I have felt the irrepressible urge to preach.  I have been drawn to give.  I have been bold to speak.  I have been oppressed to serve.  I heard an inner voice echo within my conciseness saying “You should do that.”

I realize that many find great comfort in ascribing these leadings to the direct word of the Lord in their lives.  May God bless them.  It is not for me to determine how the Spirit will interact with a child of God.

Maybe, it is timidity, hopefully, it is humility, but I am hesitant to claim the authority of “God has told me” because I am not certain that what I heard was prophetic.  I know that the working of the Spirit in my life can be fallible, not because of Him but because of me.  I know that I don’t hear things as clear as I should.  I know that I will often hear what I want to hear.  I know that my flesh can corrupt the message.

However, it is very comforting to understand that I have not been left out of God’s plan due to the lack of the mysterious calling.  He has called me for years.  I just didn’t recognize it as such.  We are being called to obedience daily.  We are all being called to love one another.  We are all being called to seek, give, teach, worship, glorify, encourage, preach, defend…  The children of God are all called to follow Christ.

So, go do it.  Go do all that God has already called everyone to do.

Stop waiting for a spiritual trump card.  Stop waiting for the divine authority of a calling.  If the Spirit is leading you to do something, go do.  You might be misguided.  You might meander about while you try to figure things out.  You probably will be opposed.  You might face criticism.  You might not feel supported by family and friends.  You might even be wrong but if you are walking in the Spirit and responding in a faith being worked through with love, then God is going to make it all work out for His good.

Our Lord is going to be faithful and true.
He will confirm upon you His great pleasure as you step out in faith.
We have been set free to take that step.
We are not going to screw it up.

If an opportunity presents itself to show God’s love, than take it.
If you feel a desire to serve God, then go knock on some doors where opportunity lives.
If you have work in your hands, be content to serve God where you are.  Don’t despise what God has given you to do in hopes of something better.

If you feel like God wants you to do something: pray about it, talk to other believers you trust, seek the scriptures, and if it all checks out – then do it.

We make the search for a calling harder than it really is.  God is not playing a mysterious game of hide and seek with His children. He has given us all the tools that we need to obediently follow him.  We don’t need hyper-spiritual super solutions or to decipher a mysterious code.

We just need to trust and love our Lord and then do what comes to our heart – relaxing a bit would help.

The truth is that God is more committed to showing you His will than you are to discovering it.  ~ Tullian Tchividjian

PRAYER: O Lord, you know that I have struggled and continue to struggle with knowing your will.  Forgive me for being envious of my brothers’ callings.  Forgive me for wanting a calling that I  do not have and may never have.  Help me to be content with what You have called me to do today.  Open my eyes to the opportunities that you place all around me.  Bless the work that you have all ready given me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

I highly recommend Kevin DeYoung’s excellent book,  Just Do Something – A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will  for those who could use more guidance about understanding God’s will for our lives.


  1. ‘So appreciate your honesty and humility, JD. You’re right: our fallible spirits don’t always hear correctly what God is saying. What we CAN do is follow the callings upon all of our lives–to obey, worship, encourage, give, etc. I also agree with “The Simple Italians” above, who remind us: God often shows us the next step of His plan only after we’ve taken the first step. Thank you for a thoughtful post with very applicable truths.

  2. So true, because it is often as we go that we are led. In my experience, God often shows the next step only after we have taken that first one!

  3. Thank you for this devotional; can’t go over the details but this stir up a recent fresh memory of dealing with someone who had some very atrocious pattern of sin that is also criminal who has a history of serving time in jail but kept on appealing to some kind of subject hearing of voice which he kept on retreating to when people tell him he’s definitely not qualified for the ministry.

  4. Very moving!

  5. Great thinking and feeling!

  6. You are so right. If only more people would listen to you…..

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