The Call of God: My Story

sunshine-923890_640Some say you can find God’s call through prayer and study of God’s Word.

As a young, on fire Christian, I was driven to find God’s call on my life. What did He want me to do? How did He want to use me specifically? And even more importantly, How do I find out?

Many Christians teach that knowing the will of God is found in the bible and through prayer. This sounds great at first blush. Easy, in fact.

But what happens when you actually sit down to DO just that?

The big picture snapshot applicable to every Christian is this call: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” It’s when you drill down a little that things get dicey. Where do I preach the gospel? When do I go? What method am I to use? Should I be a preacher? Teacher? A lawyer? A doctor? A missionary? Counselor?

I was counseled to pray and study scripture to find the answers to what God had in mind for me. So, I asked myself, practically speaking, where do I start?

  • At Genesis and work forward or Revelation and work back?
  • The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? (What do I do with the contradictions that muddy the waters?)
  • What if the book of Acts pops into my head while I’m praying? Is that God telling me to read Acts to find specific instruction?
  • Acts says, “Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you.” Is that God? Should I pack up and go now? If so, go where?
  • Maybe it’s a simple game of Bible Roulette? Crack it open and see where my finger lands. But, what happens if I end up on some truly bizarre verse?

PepperoniLet’s say while in the act of seeking God’s will through prayer and bible study, I have a random thought pop into my head about pepperoni. Does that have meaning? Is God trying to reach me?

I could conclude that I should stay right here in America since pepperoni is an American version of salami. But where exactly in the U.S.? West Virginia is where pepperoni originated. So, I should go to WV. The very thought that God is speaking sends a shiver across my shoulders. Is that confirmation that I’m onto something? But where exactly in WV? And what am I to do when I get there?

This is but the beginning of the mind bending exercises that are all too common for many Christians.  Guess work, the tingles and luck of the biblical draw drive life’s decisions. I’ve heard more preposterous stories like that than I can count over our decades in ministry.

But you know what’s worse? Acting on these tingles and the scripture that pops off the page is considered obedience and faith. Both of which are highly prized among Christians.

For us it unfolded like this: When it came time for my husband to graduate from seminary, his prayer and contemplation led him to sense an inner stirring that he had the call of God for missionary service. Scriptures he’d been studying served as confirmation that God was speaking. And when he confided in a fellow student, he confirmed it as a great idea.

Take a guess at what my husband’s primary focus of study was throughout four years of seminary. Go ahead. Guess.

MISSIONS.

As a result, we sold everything, found a new home for our dog, left our jobs, friends and family and headed for Africa. Think on that for one second… put yourself there. Start with: Sell. Everything…

bulls-eye-1044725_640.jpgIn hindsight, it’s mind boggling that we did all that based on nothing more than an inner stirring that would make perfect sense even without supernatural intervention.

It’s a fact, you tend to hit the target you’re focused on. My husband had missions in his cross hairs. Is it any wonder that he thought that was God’s calling?

As a parent, when I want my children to do something, I tell them with clarity. No guess work needed. No reading between the lines. No whispering from dark corners. God likens himself as the heavenly father. Clear communication seems a fair expectation when the stakes are so high.

It’s sobering to face that I nearly lost my husband in Africa: Once at gun point by a thief and twice with malaria. As an ExChristian, I view all of this through an entirely different lens…

Attempts to find the will of God are a frustrating folly at the least. Attempts to obey them can be deadly at the worst.

 

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Call of God: My Story

  1. I can tell you the answer to your question in terms of looking for jobs—being something of an expert in the field of career planning and development. It is written in your members—or perhaps better—in your DNA. Then, the job you are supposed to have will just come to you, as long as you are actually looking for a job and sometimes when you are not even looking. However, quite often, one only sees that with 20/20 hindsight 10 years after the fact.

    This is important to me right now because I am laid off and looking for a job. Do you have a job for one of the top five smartest people you have ever known? You just said—what? If you knew me closely for 10 years, you would understand. I get that a lot from other people—but having low self-esteem—it never really sinks into my brain.

    Like

    1. Hi Dover!

      For the Christian looking for God’s specific will, it only stands to reason that they will pray in the direction of their natural inclination. And most of us do come into the world with abilities that develop into interests. Some know from a very early age what they want to be when they grow up. For the Christian who has always been inclined toward, for instance, medicine, it only makes sense that they would begin to pray to God for confirmation that he or she should go to med school. They’ll look for the answer in the affirmative because deep down, that’s what they want and are naturally drawn to. So, like with my husband, it’s no wonder that they see signs of God’s YES all around.

      But that’s not supernatural. It’s entirely NATURAL.

      Like

  2. I get a kick whenever you mention Christians unknowingly doing stuff like magic and divination. Is Bible bibliomancy really prevalent? I mean, I’m sure I’ve seen instances of people doing the whole random page/random verse thing in films etc. but I’ve never been quite sure if they actually take that thing seriously or if they actually do it frequently or not.

    Aren’t dreams used for guidance as well?

    Like

  3. It totally depends on the Christian you ask. Many Christians have no expectation that God will actually make himself known in any way in life. They may be die hard believers, but they don’t worry that God’s not at work and that they have no evidence even though they pray. Most of them don’t even really read the bible much at all or ever and save prayer for desperate times. That type of Christian would laugh at this post and wonder what we crazy Christians were up to.

    Then there are those like me back then (the charismatic/full gospel crowd) who believe that signs and wonders are for today. They expect healing, answer to prayer, a call from God, prophecy, words of knowledge… God is at work and they are in the middle of it all. They read the bible and act on it when they can (leave out the stonings and the incest, etc). This crowd prays about everything and actively seeks God on his will for their individual lives. And they wait and look and look and wait for His directions.

    Bibliomancy as you call it was simply bible roulette for us but we were seriously discouraged by leadership in doing this. I only did that a couple times and it resulted in just dumb shit from the bible popping up.

    All that to say, you’re right. I was guilty of this type of divination with no knowledge whatsoever that it was in fact divination. Twisted, right?

    And as to dreams… absolutely dreams are a part of this equation. I never had any that I put stock in, but there were plenty of friends who did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of these things, divination included, pretty much pop up in every human civilisation. Christianity tended to put a lid on them and distort them into a Christian framework, taking away the word divination for example but there was plenty of it plus prophesies, visions, dreams, apocalyptic experiences and so on. There was also that ridiculous method of looking for bible prophesies with software a while ago, I think that one died out. Anyway, I find it fascinating that a divination method that goes back to the Roman Era would just naturally re-appear among modern Christians. At least the Romans used books of poetry for it so the results were better than hitting random verses like “go beat up the Ammonites or I shall smite thee”.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I remember trying to “find God’s will for my life”. I thought I was doing that but in reality I was simply doing what other people wanted me to do. In other words, other people made the decisions and I just felt God was doing it. You mentioned “obedience” as a key to the Christian life. I think “knowing gods will” and obedience get blurred together a lot.
    BTW – the pepperoni is hilarious! It really isn’t far from reality though. How would someone objectively discern between gods will and random thought?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Me, too. I sure felt the pressure to 1. Have a call and 2. Fall into step with what others thought. And pepperoni? As dumb as that example is, I knew plenty of Christians who described hearing from God in precisely that manner! Yikes!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s