Are you sure of your calling from God? I know that Peter challenged all followers of Christ to make their calling and election sure in 2 Peter 1-9-11. But how do you do that? In reading through the Bible there were some people who knew their calling from God from early times and never seemed to question it. Jeremiah had no doubt about his calling, but often wished he didn’t feel so certain. He even said he had rather run a motel in the desert than continue his work as a prophet. He questioned why God was calling him to the task since he was so young and inexperienced. Yet God would never let up on the responsibility he placed on him.
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel had very dramatic calls from God for their work as his prophets. What is strange about Isaiah’s is that it didn’t come at the beginning of his work as a prophet but after some period of time, he saw God high and lifted up in the temple, with cherubim flying about him calling out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Isaiah immediately saw his own sinfulness and cried out, “Woe is me for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips living in the midst of others with unclean lips.” The Lord sent an angel to take a coal of fire from the altar and touch Isaiah’s lips to make him clean. Then God said, “Who will go for us and who can we send?” Isaiah answered, “Here I am, send me.”
Interestingly with both Isaiah and Ezekiel God stressed to them that they were to tell the people of Israel his words and warn them of what was coming if they didn’t repent. but with both he said, “They won’t listen to you.” Yet his message was to keep on preaching his word, “Whether they listen or not.”
In the New Testament God’s call didn’t always seem to be quite so dramatic as did Isaiah or Ezekiel’s. With most of the twelve called by the Lord as apostles their calling simply consisted of the Lord saying to them, “Follow me.” With Peter and Andrew and probably with James and John it was a little more in that Jesus performed a miracle to fill their fishing boats with fish after they had fished all night and caught nothing. Then Jesus said to them, “Come after me and I will make you become fishers of men.” Even that seems somewhat mundane compared with Isaiah or Ezekiel. The most dramatic call in the New Testament was of Saul who became known as Paul. His call to ministry was tied closely with his call to become a Christian. On the road to Damascus to persecute the Christians a great light shined around him and he fell to the ground. The Lord spoke to him asking “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you Lord?” Jesus answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Even though he wasn’t yet a Christian, the Lord had his mission laid out. He told him to go into Damascus and it would be told to him what he must do. Then after, three days God called on a disciple named Ananias to go talk with Saul. When Ananias didn’t want to go because of what he had heard about Saul, the Lord told him Saul was a chosen vessel of his and that he would send him to the Gentiles to preach to them and he would testify before kings. God said, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name sake.”
It was a little more dramatic when God called on Saul and Barnabas to go out on a missionary journey to reach more people. The Spirit spoke to the church to tell them to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work he had called them to do. They prayed for them and laid hands on them and sent them on the mission for the Lord.
Paul mentioned to Timothy that he had been called by God along with the laying on of the hands of the elders. But we don’t really have a record of when and how that happened. We know that the church in Lystra recommended him to Paul and he became one of if not the, closest companion for Paul from that point on.
In Ephesians 4:11 Paul said Christ ascended on high leading captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers. He gave the purpose of such ministries as to “Equip the saints, for the work of service for the building up of the body of Christ.” Also in Romans 12:1-8 and I Corinthians 12:13-22 he described the works he calls us to as gifts from the Spirit. In the Romans 12 one it is intriguing to me that the gifts mentioned are things like prophecy, teaching, encouraging, leading, giving, and showing mercy. Other than prophecy we wouldn’t usually think of these others as being a calling or special gift from the Lord. Yet Paul said with each of these that if that was my gift, I ought to give myself to do that. Obviously there were some in the church who were gifted by God in one way but were always wanting to do something different from that. He called on them to do what they were gifted to do.
It seems to me that these Scriptures indicate that our calling and our giftedness relate to the same thing. God gives us spiritual gifts and then calls us to do what he has gifted us to do. The problem we often have is that we may not be able to see what our real gifts are and push back against the Lord’s will by refusing to do the very things we are being called to do. Sometimes it is because the gifts we have don’t seem to be all that important or glamorous gifts. We look for something bigger, something more in the spotlight.
But we only find peace and the blessings of God when we serve faithfully in the way and area he has called and gifted us to do. There we will find real meaning in our lives. It may well be the case that if I faithfully carry out the present calling and giftedness that in time God will give other gifts and more avenues to serve him. But it must start with faithfully serving where we are. We may need the help and advise of other Christians, especially some who are more mature in the faith to help us see where our gifts really are.