May 27, 2010

The Rest of Our Lives Suspended... Thoughts on Being Called

Elisabeth Elliot, missionary and widow of martyred missionary Jim Elliot, has written quite a bit about the topic of being called. In her short essay "But I Don't Feel Called" from her book All That Was Ever Ours..., she shares her own struggles in hearing God's call:

"What agonies I suffered as a young woman, straining my ears to catch the voice, full of fear that I would miss it, yet longing to hear it, longing to be told what to do, in order that I might do it. That desire is a pure one. Most of our desires are tainted at least a little, but the desire to do the will of God surely is our highest. Is it reasonable to think that God would not finally reveal it to us? Is it (we must also ask) reasonable not to use our powers of reason, given to us by him? Does it make more sense to go to the grocery store because groceries are needed than to go to foreign lands because workers are needed? If we deny the simple logic of going where the need is most desperate, we may... spend the rest of our lives suspended..."

I have thought about the whole issue of "being called" for years. The calling has always (for me) been based first and foremost, even solely, in God's word. I have never needed to hear a voice, I've never prayed for a "sign", and have never really expected either. It's plain as day to me that I am "called" because I can read God's word in the Bible. But God doesn't call me to be a missionary, he commands me to go. He commands so many things, I can find out what they are if I simply open my Bible. The question is not the call, it's the obedience. It's not about feeling called, it's about obeying God's commands.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." - James 1:22

My son's study Bible has a little blip inserted around Acts13:2 which asks, "What is a missionary?". It simply says that "missionaries are people who travel to tell others about Jesus".

The word "missionary" never actually appears in the Bible. God calls us witnesses. A witness is someone who has seen something. We are all called to be witnesses for Christ. You are either a good one, or a bad one. But you are one.

Most of us know what we are called to. We just get stuck on the obedience part.

Did Jesus say that only certain people are called to be workers in the Kingdom?
To fulfill the Great Comission?
Did Jesus say you must go to seminary first? (not that this is bad)

Don't wait for a special sign.

Don't wait for the sky to part and angels to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Don't wait your whole life for the "right" time. Don't wait until you're "ready" (whatever that means). The sign may never come, it's potentially never the right time, and you will never be fully ready. It's kind of like parenthood, you decide to go for it, and then you find out the only way you can survive it is by the grace of God.

My two cents, for what it's worth. (not that you should listen to me) :D

*photo credit The Cloud Appreciation Society*

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