I called out to my daughter recently and asked, ‘Are you ready for school yet?’
I called again. ‘Are you ready for school yet?!’
You guessed it. No response. I finally walked to the other side of the room and found my daughter totally oblivious to what I was saying. She had her earphones on, listening to her favourite You-Tuber give her tips on how to be more effective at Minecraft. That’s always a priority in my house; just before we leave for school, make sure you’ve honed your gaming skills just in case the teacher calls upon you to make a presentation.
When God calls
It’s one thing to listen to a parent when they call out from a distance, it’s another to listen to the call of God. The best way to describe this idea of ‘God calling you’ is the story of the young boy Samuel.
One night he went to bed and God called him. Samuel thought it was Eli, the Priest, so he went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am. You called me.’ Eli asked him to back and lie down as it wasn’t him who was calling him. After three times, Eli realised that maybe the Lord was calling Samuel. Eli called Samuel to go back and lie down and say, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.’ (See 1 Samuel chapter 3, verses 1-21).
God called out to Samuel in those moments. And God calls out to his people today.
The problem is, many times we’re just not listening.
We’ve learned to put on the metaphorical headphones of life that drown out the voice of God in the midst of the fear and anxiety of the world we live in. We haven’t done it on purpose necessarily; it’s just that so much has been happening in our world, we’ve stopped listening out for the call of God.
I’m ready to listen again for the call of God.
It’s more than just listening
I remember hearing the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit one night. As I stood at the front of a small church in a suburban town, I responded to the call of the Minister to stand and listen to the Lord.
The powerful verses of Scripture found in Isaiah chapter 61 touched my heart. God was saying to me, ‘The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon you. For he has anointed you to preach good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to set the captives free and release the prisoner from darkness.’
I felt like God was calling me. God was speaking into my heart. And what mattered now, was not that I would simply listen to the call of God, but now respond to the call of God.
Listening without responding is a kind of stubbornness and disobedience. We’ve all seen that: kids who hear what their parents are saying, and don’t act upon it; Governments who impose restrictions upon its citizens, and citizens who hear what is being said and still wear their mask underneath their chin.
One positive I guess is that that chin isn’t going to get Coronavirus.
So what is ‘calling’?
In The Shape of Calling, we read:
‘The word calling (Greek: kaléō) means: to be spoken to, to be invited, or to be summoned by God.
So we could say,
· Calling is an invitation offered to us by God,
· Calling refers to the activity of God, whereby God asks, draws, or invites us to do something or to go somewhere, or
· Calling is about actively serving and playing our part in God's plan.
God calls us to follow Jesus. God invites us to listen to him and then respond.
‘Calling can happen at any time: in prayer, when you’re reading the Bible, at a sacred space or in a holy moment. It may be something you just naturally grow into or discover through conversation. While we may all desire a great experience, God usually calls people during the rhythm of their everyday lives.’
Go to https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/comealive/calling/ to see more on ‘The Shape of Calling’ produced by The Salvation Army Australia.
God is calling people today.
I can picture God calling out and saying, ‘Come follow me!’
And what would happen if we took our headphones off, and actively listened to God, and then decided in our heart, that we would respond, with passion and fervour, to the call of God upon our lives?
Call us now God, we’re ready to listen and respond.
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at http://www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
Peter Brookshaw’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/peter-brookshaw.html