I was challenged this week to write about recognizing and responding to God’s call, by my colleague Gabrielle Radford. On one level this seems like an easy topic to respond to, but on another level, it is a little harrowing to address. Yes, I am a minister, so the implication there is that at some point, I recognized that God was calling me into ministry, and then I responded. I would love to say that God came down and sat on my bed one night, or even that God caused something to happen in my life that was miraculous. It did not happen that way for me. It has never really happened that way for me. Take note, just because God calls you one time, never think that is it. If we are really listening, God is always calling us to something. That is the truth of it. Everyday, I feel God’s calling toward something, but I digress.
I used to joke that if God ever called me to ministry, I would just not pick up the phone. If he paged me, I’d never return the phone call. Maybe God could have used a carrier pigeon, but he chose a different way. For a long time, I honestly think that it was around a year, I heard a single voice in the back of my head. It was soft, but I knew who it was. All of my life, people had said that I would be a Preacher. I couldn’t see it in myself. Then I realized that the single word “preach” kept banging around in my head, and no matter how I might ignore it, it refused to be silenced. It was then that I recognized it. It scared me. Here I was, a college kid, wanting to sow my oats, but afraid of the consequences of going full on “young adult”, and here was God calling me. Here is the cool thing about God, though. Even when we recognize that God is wanting us to do something, we still must RESPOND!
-Abraham recognized God calling him to leave his family land and go to an unknown place.
-Jacob knew that God wanted him to square up with Esau.
-Joseph knew that Mary was having the Messiah.
-Moses knew that God wanted him to go back to Egypt.
Have you ever considered what might have happened if they had responded NO instead of YES? We all have that option. Whenever God speaks, we have a duty to respond. Salvation is the same. Jesus died to make a way for all of us to be saved, but even if we recognize it, it is not enough. We have to respond!
So, I recognized God calling me into ministry. I remember the night that I responded. I had been with my then fiancee, as she had been helping me not fail math AGAIN. On my way home, late at night, I was listening to Kirk Franklin’s song with TD Jakes, about a guy who needed Jesus, and the Bishop helped him with prayer. When I pulled up into my parent’s driveway, what had once been a whisper in my head, “preach”, was quickly becoming a pounding “PREACH”! I found myself praying the prayer on the cd aloud, and that prayer quickly transitioned to me screaming at the top of my lungs in my car, “LORD, I’LL DO IT! IF YOU WANT ME TO PREACH, I’LL PREACH!”
As I remember it now, a flash of light went off in the back of my mind, and this peace came over me. I sat there in my car with tears in my eyes, and peace in my mind, for the first time in a very long time.
There have been multiple times in my life since, that I have known God was calling me. My life would not be what it is if I had not responded favorably to God. That is not to say that I have always done so. I can think of at least one instance, for each of the times I said Yes, that I said “not right now”. It is human. We fail sometimes, but God is so full of grace, that even when we miss it, He still sees perfection and success in us. We simply have to trust HIm enough to say YES everytime. Yeah, I know! Sometimes easier said than done.
If you are wondering if God is calling you for something, the answer is YES!! How will you respond?