While walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw four fishermen. He had met them before but this time was special. He had decided that he wanted to include them in his band of disciples. They would become the core of the first group of believers after his ascension to heaven.
His call to them was as clear as crystal. They couldn’t mistake it.
“Come follow me”.
They were about to enter into a radically new phase of life. For the next three years they spent all of their time with Jesus. They learned from him. They saw his miracles. They listened to his encounters with the religious leaders.
In every sense they were his disciples. They knew their mission because they had been called by Jesus to be his disciples.
The uniqueness of each person’s call
I filled out an application this past week in which one of the questions was asking me to talk about my call into ministry. Mine is a little different from your’s. In fact mine is a little different from every other person’s call any where in the world because every call is unique.
I do know though that God called me into my own unique role in serving him. That sense of call has been an anchor in my life for more than forty years of ministry.
I have been asked when I knew that God was calling me. My answer is that I don’t. I just know that as a teenager, I had a certainty that this is what I should do with my life. I married a wonderful woman who knew that God was calling her to serve him full-time and that reinforced my sense of call. We really have never thought about doing anything else.
That sense of call has been reinforced over and over again throughout our years of service. We have seen God’s amazing provision when we had needs. We have seen people’s lives changed as a result of our ministry. We have been told by people that we have been important in their lives.
I would love to look back on a more fruitful life but with all of my short comings God has given me those important reminders that he called me into ministry in the first place.
God’s call on your life could be much more dramatic than mine. Each and every call is unique but I am thinking that there is some point in your life that you look back on when God made it clear to you that he wanted you in ministry. That is your own very unique and special call by God.
I am speaking primarily to people in full-time ministry in this blog but I do believe that God also calls people into a variety of areas of service who aren’t doing it full-time. So what I am saying certainly isn’t restricted just to people in full-time ministry.
The importance of a call
When I was a student in Bible College, I had three young children. My wife worked but funds were scarce. One particular month the rent was due in a couple of days and there just wasn’t the funds to pay for it. I remember taking a walk, and as I walked the familiar streets around our apartment, I asked God what he was doing. I needed the money. The rent was due. I had three children and a wife to feed. I felt like a total failure as a husband, a father and a servant of Jesus Christ.
In those kinds of times my wife was always there for me. She did her best to remind me of God’s faithfulness in the past but I was at a point at which I wasn’t hearing very well.
As I walked that night tears were coming down my cheeks and I felt absolutely deserted. It was one of the lowest points of my life, so much so that I can still remember it clearly all these years later.
At that low point there was one thing that I held on to, one thing that prevented me from just leaving school and moving on to something that paid enough for me to support my family.
I knew that God had called me into ministry but I also knew that he hadn’t released me from that call on my life. I held on to the fact of that call. I was hanging by my finger nails but I knew that I couldn’t leave until God reversed his call.
Hanging on to the call
If you are in ministry, one thing that I have learned over the past forty years is that things don’t always go as we would like them to go. If you aren’t facing problems right now, thank God for the period of calm and get ready for the next set of problems down the road. I don’t want to be a pessimist but difficulties are a part of serving.
When you are facing what may seem like impossible odds, that is when you have to look back to that time when you felt God’s call on your life and you have to hold on to that moment with all of your strength.
If he has called you into ministry, don’t leave until he reverses his call and leads you out of that ministry.
If he has called you into a place of leadership in a church, don’t leave until he clearly leads you out of that church.
If he has called you into an area of service to people, don’t leave until he calls you to another group of people.
God’s call on our lives should never be measured by the difficulties or lack of the same. Some times it is to the task of solving those problems that he has called us.
If you are going through a tough time right now, look back to God’s call on your life. Grab hold of that call as tightly as you can and don’t let go unless you are absolutely certain that he is calling you into something else.
Some times that tight hold on our call is all that gets us through.