“Many times we don’t realize God’s active involvement in our lives until we look back in the rear view mirror.”– Glen Pullin, fellow MCC church member
If you study through the Hebrew Scriptures it is hard to miss the fact that God is the chief actor in the story. Nothing takes place without his foreknowledge. He is behind every scene working to produce the best finale. He is the director. Yet somehow he gives the actors free will to make decisions. There is a mystery in the tension between man’s (limited) free will and God’s sovereign power. I don’t really understand it. But I know that both are true.
From Abraham Job to to Moses to Joseph to Daniel, we see God’s involvement in everyday affairs and spectacular encounters. More than just permit evil to happen, God works through it.
Overcome by the power of the moment, it can be so easy to forget God’s track record. Whatever we are dealing with becomes all we see. It obscures our view of God. We don’t see Him working despite our pain, struggle or trial.
David Eells wrote in Sovereign God, “Evil is a tool of God’s sovereignty to bring us to purity and maturity…Sometimes we look at circumstances instead of the Word and think that the devil has been able to put a stop to God’s plan. God would have never made the devil if he had been someone who could stop His plan.”
As we see in the story of Joseph being sold into slavery or Jesus condemned on a cross, God uses sin to produce a holy, living result. It can be almost impossible to recognize God’s involvement in the heat of the moment. But nonetheless God’s divine reversal is taking place. Just as Glen said to me, we may only see God when we look back at what He has done and marvel at the fact that He was in our situation after all.
The concept of a divine calling can be hard for even the most mature Christian to understand. How do we know for sure that a call is from God and not our own imagination? What about the comments of others that cause us to doubt our calling? What if our calling makes no sense or doesn’t line up with our current passions or talents? Do we only have one call or many possible calls? Is a call about a place, a time, a job, a task or a person?
Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest, “The call of God is the expression of God’s nature, not ours. God providentially weaves the threads of His call through our lives, and only we can distinguish them. It is the threading of God’s voice directly to us over a certain concern, and it is useless to seek another person’s opinion of it. Our dealings over the call of God should be kept exclusively between ourselves and Him.”
Wow, that advice seems to run in the face of what I was always told about the importance of having a company of wise counselors. Couldn’t we be deceived into thinking something is from God when it is not? Don’t we need the wisdom of outsiders to identify things that we are too close to see?
Chambers also wrote, “The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God… The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves. And we cannot hear anything God says. But to be brought to the place where we can hear the call of God is to be profoundly changed.”
I agree that God wants to do much more with us than just what we are capable of based on our own abilities. We have to admit that even our skills come from God. We should come to the point where we abandon our limitations and trust God to do the impossible with us. But I wonder if God’s call for our lives is more about who He wants us to become than what He wants us to do?
Chambers further wrote, “The call of God is not a call to serve Him in any particular way. My contact with the nature of God will shape my understanding of His call and will help me realize what I truly desire to do for Him. The call of God is an expression of His nature.”
Is my first call to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection (Phillipans 3:10)? Are all the other “calls” irrelevant compared to that one thing?