On March 10, 1876, the first phone call was made. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, called his assistant, Thomas A. Watson. “Come here,” said Bell to Watson in the historic call, “I want to see you.”
God’s Summons to His Service
God is not like Mr. Bell. God’s call is not a one-time event. His posture toward us is one of continual calling and invitation. The Christian is urged to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1) by living the “life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:17). In essence, God tells us, “This is who you are,” and then he opens our eyes to how we should live in response to that call. Jesus gives us heavenly CPR, breathing the Holy Spirit into our lifeless lungs, and then invites us into “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
To put it another way, there is work to be done. But this too starts with God. God is the first and greatest worker, and the Scriptures reveal a God who enjoys his work. He pronounced his creation “good” and then invited his children into the family business. He could have kept snapping his fingers and making new babies, gardens, and homes. Instead, he blessed his children with vocation. They make babies. They work the ground. They harvest food. They cultivate the world. Though God certainly works in supernatural ways, his work is more often of the regular variety. He feeds the world through farmers, funds business through bankers, and cultivates beauty through artists.
Yet calling gets more practical too. We are custom made by our Creator to fill a place and fulfill a destiny. We are summoned to serve a purpose. Arriving at that purpose requires us to answer certain questions that excavate our individuality.
First, how am I endowed? As created beings, we are hardwired with certain strengths and talents. These gifts, some of which are spiritual (Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11; 1 Pet. 4:10–11), are not accidental. They speak to us of a path God invites us to travel, where we find roles and service compatible with our giftings. It’s like discovering the sport to which our equipment belongs. Exploring the question of endowment (which includes asking others!) helps guide you toward your vocational call.
Next, what have I experienced? The question of vocation meets us on a road already traveled. Men are not newborns. They arrive into adulthood having passed through significant experiences. A broken home, a college scholarship, a wayward sibling, an uncle in rehab, and countless other milestones along our journey shape our calling; our calling is vitally connected to our story. Paul’s upbringing, education, and experience with Christ made him a unique witness to the Gentiles (Eph. 3:1–9; Phil. 3:3–11). Luke’s training as a physician probably made him more credible and conscientious as a historian (Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1–3). Understanding “who I am” and “how I got to be this way” are crucial questions in interpreting my experience and identifying my calling from God.
Last, what do I enjoy? Men are not dispassionate, lifeless beings. We have passions, desires, aspirations—things we enjoy and feel irresistibly drawn to do. They elicit pleasure from us, and when we’re honest, we often feel God’s pleasure in the pursuit. “God made me fast,” said Eric Liddell. “And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Vocation often follows passion and ambition. It is conceived when desire marries pursuit. It explores what makes us thrive. The question of enjoyment asks what pursuit brings us the greatest pleasure for the utmost glory of God.
The first phone call began with the words “come here.” The first call from Jesus began with “follow me.” Following Jesus means we come to him and learn who we are: sons and daughters of the king of the universe. But Jesus never stands still for long, and so our coming to him always results in our following him.
Before Jesus calls us to do, he first calls us to be. From that place of intimacy, where we are loved, known, and accepted, we can learn to hear the voice of God calling to us. He is calling you today.
How will you respond?
(Excerpt from ESV Men’s Devotional Bible © 2015 by Crossway. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.)
Read Called (Part One)