When He Calls…
If God calls me today, how will I respond? Am I ready to obey Him regardless of the assignment?
When I was in primary school, I did not want to be a teacher. For some reason, I didn’t believe that teaching was an important job. When I went to high school and we were told what grades we needed to achieve to get into our dream courses at the university, I looked at my grades and happily concluded I would easily escape becoming a teacher.
Fast forward to the present. I am a teacher. How did that happen?
As I looked for work after campus, I prayed and asked God to show me what he wanted me to do for the rest of my life. Well, his answer came in the form of my first job – as a music teacher! I was grateful for the job, though I secretly hoped that I would get a different job in the coming months. After going through a period of push-and-pull, I surrendered to the Lord’s will for my life, teaching, and began to enjoy every moment I spent with the kids.
Right now I would not trade teaching for any other career (until I get to retirement age, of course).
God called me to be a teacher, among other things. Teaching and mentoring the younger generation is my passion, and I get paid for it! If I had, however, decided not to obey the call the God placed in my heart, where would I be now? I don’t even want to think about it.
About the call He placed in my heart – let me clarify that. In the fourth year of campus, the Lord gave me a desire to pursue music as a career. That’s where my journey began. At that time, obeying Him was not easy, and it became harder after graduating. But God, in his mercy, gave me the grace that I needed to obey him. I am so grateful to Him.
Enough about me. Let’s have a look at two people in the Bible who reacted to God’s calling and assignment in totally different ways.
Any idea who the runner is? It’s Jonah, of course!
Jonah, the son of Amittai, gets a message from God. “Another easy assignment,” he must have said to himself… until he heard what God had to say.
Jonah 1:2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” (NLT)
Nineveh was not exactly the easiest place to be sent to. First, it was the capital of Assyria, one of Israel’s fiercest enemies. Secondly, the Assyrians were known to be quite evil. It was not the best place to be sent on assignment, was it?
So Jonah ran – in the opposite direction.
Why did Jonah run away? Could it be that he did not agree with what the Lord was telling him to do? Could it be that he did not understand the magnitude of the message he was supposed to give the Ninevites?
Jonah just didn’t want to do what the Lord wanted him to do – so he ran. He boarded a ship to Tarshish, then after a huge storm, found himself cooling his heels in the tummy of a fish. At this point, Jonah realized that there was nowhere he could hide from the Lord, the same Lord, who in his mercy, sent the fish to save him from drowning in the sea.
Complicated, right? Wouldn’t it have been easier to obey the Lord the first time?
Sometimes I behave just like Jonah. I hear the Lord clearly telling me where to go and what to do, and I go in the opposite direction.
When God gives me instructions and I disobey him, I am effectively telling him that I am yet to give him full authority over my life, i.e. I do not recognize him as Lord. The same is true when a child disobeys a parent – the child’s action indicates that he or she does not respect the parent enough to obey the instructions given. How tragic!
We all have a little bit of Jonah within us – that little voice that tells us that we do not have to obey everything the Lord tells us – that little voice that says a little disobedience won’t matter. But guess what – disobedience does matter. Every time we disobey the Lord, our relationship with Him becomes more distant, little by little. Eventually, disobedience becomes a lifestyle, and the result is a broken relationship with the Lord.
I don’t think I ever want to get to this point.
Thankfully, the Lord gave Jonah another chance, because the message he was to deliver was a matter of life and death. We do not always get a second chance, though, so let’s learn to obey the Lord when He calls.
Exodus 19:5 “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (NLT)
It’s one thing to hear when He calls you, it’s another thing to actually listen and obey.
Samuel served Eli the priest at a time when visions and dreams were scarce. In other words, the Lord was not speaking as often as He did in earlier times. Samuel had not heard of anyone being called by the Lord before, and neither had he heard the voice of God. When the Lord called him, therefore, he thought it was Eli’s voice that he heard. Interesting how he confused the two voices, right?
The Lord called Samuel three times, and every time the boy went to Eli to ask him why he was calling him. After being woken up the third time, Eli realized that it was the Lord calling the boy, and instructed him on what to say when he heard the voice of God.
1 Samuel 3:9 -10 ‘’So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”’ (NLT)
The message from the Lord was a sad one, directed at Eli. It was however not the last time that God spoke to Samuel. A few verses later, we see that because Samuel became a listener, the Lord was with him.
1 Samuel 3:19-21 “As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle.” (NLT)
Finally, the Lord had found someone who he could communicate with, someone who was ready to listen to what He had to say, someone who was ready to obey. Finally, the Lord had a priest who was ready to obey His call.
I thought about this long and hard. If I heard the voice of the Lord in the middle of the night, would I be quick to listen and obey? Would I agree to do what the Lord wanted me to do without doubts and questions? Some of the messages Samuel was given to pass on to the people of Israel were not easy to convey at all, but he still obeyed the Lord and did what was required.
Jonah chose to run away from the call of the Lord, and ended up in the dark, stinky belly of a fish, cut off from everything and everyone. In contrast, Samuel chose to listen to and obey the Lord, and the Lord was with him all the days of his life.
The next time God calls you and asks you to do something, which side will you choose to be on?
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Hi, dear friends. Thank you again for reading this week’s article. I hope that you are challenged to think about obeying God’s call and following His instructions. If you know anyone who will benefit from this article, please send it to them. Also, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Have a great week ahead!