In January, 2013, three men took a weekend away to seek God together in prayer. Their goal was to pray for their leaders, families, and each other. I’ve been thinking about that prayer retreat lately, and dug into the blog archives to read what I had written. It was like looking through an old journal as I vividly recalled different parts of our time together that weekend.
One of the things I was seeking God about was clarity regarding my calling. God answered that prayer quickly as I received confirmation on what I thought He might have been calling me to. A clear picture of what is ahead is not the same as arriving at the destination.
I had the joy of vacationing in Alaska last summer with my family. One of the craziest things that I did not realize is that the Denali Mountain Range can be seen from Anchorage when the weather is clear. That’s over 130 miles as the crow flies, and the mountains still look incredibly large. I’ve heard it said that you can start to see the Rocky Mountains from around 150 miles away.
I had an idea of what my calling might be as early as middle school. Over the years, that idea morphed but never shifted away from vocational ministry. I received a clear picture of pastoral ministry, but an open door to take a step into that calling did not come until two years later.
There seems to be a trend in The Church of people trying to find, clarify, or nail down their calling. We take personality tests, spiritual gifts assessments, and even try serving in different ministries to find something that clicks. The thing about calling is that it doesn’t come from within ourselves. The call comes from God. We cannot manufacture it.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)
Samuel was positioned in a place to hear from God. He didn’t recognize His voice at first, but he had a mentor to guide him. It must have been really confusing for him the first three times he heard God call to him, but when he finally stopped and listened, God revealed His plan to him. He wasn’t chasing a dream or searching for his calling. Samuel was serving with humility and listening with an open heart.
It’s ok, and even good to seek God regarding your calling. But it is important to seek Him from a place of humility and be open to hear what He has to say. Even if you hear a clear answer, there still may be a long road ahead. Samuel did not fully step into his calling right away, but God was with him the entire way.