January 16, 2015
[1Sa 3:1 NKJV]
Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; [there was] no widespread revelation.
[1Sa 3:2 NKJV]
And it came to pass at that time, while Eli [was] lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see,
[1Sa 3:3 NKJV]
and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God [was], and while Samuel was lying down,
[1Sa 3:4 NKJV]
that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”
[1Sa 3:5 NKJV]
So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.
[1Sa 3:6 NKJV]
Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”
[1Sa 3:7 NKJV]
(Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)
[1Sa 3:8 NKJV]
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy.
[1Sa 3:9 NKJV]
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
[1Sa 3:10 NKJV]
Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
Have you ever desired something, and because of the desire that you have, you see what you are looking for in just about everything? It could be something as simple like a candy bar. The next thing you know, every commercial on the television is about that candy bar; you see an empty candy bar wrapper flying through the parking lot on a gust of wind; the neighbor kid knocks on the door selling candy bars for his team fundraiser. It is everywhere you turn. Is it because you are looking for it subconsciously that you find it in places where you would expect it had you not had the craving, but now that you are sensitive to the craving you see it with such frequency. Well there is that.
Then there are times when you are not necessarily looking for something and yet you see it everywhere, it is a recurring theme. It is like something trying to get your attention. That has been the case for me of late. Not candy bars or anything like that, but a common theme present in the WORD of God. Perhaps, subconsciously, I am looking for it, but then again, the frequency and the way that the theme keeps presenting itself is such that it could not be mere happenstance.
It is like the echo of God’s voice ringing in my ears. Everywhere I turn the theme is present. I will randomly turn on a Christian broadcast and it is the topic for that program. I pick up the Bible and open it up and it is there. I go through a yearly devotional and it is present. And so when I hear what I perceive to be the voice of the LORD I like to pay attention.
The theme that has been consistently echoing in my mind has been on the LORD’s calling for my life. Like the candy bar I am seeing this theme more frequently and more specifically. But today, I stumbled across a reading in Oswald Chambers “My Utmost For His Highest,” which I have taken to reading this year; one devotional for each day of the year and today’s reading was as follows:
“I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whome shall I send?” Isaiah 6:8
When we speak of the call of God, we are apt to forget the most important feature, viz. the nature of the One who calls. There is the call of the sea, the call of the mountains, the call of the great ice barriers, but these calls are only heard by a few. The call is the expression of the nature from which it comes, and we can only record the call if the same nature is in us. the call of God is the expression of the call of God providentially at work for us which we recognize and no one else does. It is the threading of God’s voice to us in some particular matter, and it is no use consulting anyone else about it. We have to keep that profound relationship between our souls and God.
The call of God is not the echo of my nature; my affinities and personal temperament are not considered. As long as I consider my personal temperament and think about what I am fitted for, I shall never hear the call of God. But when I am brought into a relationship with God, I am in the condition Isaiah was in. Isaiah’s soul was so attuned to God by the tremendous crisis he had gone through that he recorded the call of God to his amazed soul. The majority of us have no ear for anything but ourselves, we cannot hear a thing God says. To be brought into the zone of the call of God is to be profoundly altered.
As I look back on my life the last thing that I ever thought I would want to do is be a pastor, much less a Christian; despite what my mom, my older aunts and uncles and grandparents said I would become one day. Even my friends prodded me with what was then what I considered an insult…”Nick, you are going to be a minister one day.” Oh how I scoffed as I cranked up my Slayer albums even louder. In my life before Christ I was content living in my sin and doing my own thing. If anything I was good at it. I had just come out of aÂ very dark place in my life when I was rescued by Jesus. I surrendered my life to ChristÂ andÂ my outlook on life changed. The old me disappeared (most of it anyways) and so I set out to learn about Jesus and be the best disciple I could be. I thought I would become a legitimate business man and so I used the talents that the LORD gave me and excelled in my career. I set out to be a light in the corporate world and found God calling me to share His WORD to my colleagues. I went to college and the LORD lead me to become a Chaplain for my fraternity, but pastor a church. Ha! Still, that tug at my heart, that whisper ever so subtle, but ever so consistent kept telling me that God intended for me to prepare for the calling He was placing on my life to lead a flock. Then the LORD revealed to me through the account of Jonah what I was doing. I was running away from the calling and so I repented, sought the LORD’s forgiveness and embraced what He has called me to do. Now it seems like I have committed to the call but every obstacle there could ever be has suddenly cropped up before me. Before I was committed to His call on my life, I feel as if I could have simply walked up to a church and they would have invited me right in. Now, I can’t even start a Bible study without the hounds of hell crashing through the door and assaulting me and my family. If it were not so serious a matter I would laugh despite myself. Even now I am chuckling as I write this. Still I am convinced that this is the LORD’s will for me. Because, well, I don’t really have a choice in the matter save the Rapture.
Pastor Chuck writes concerning the call to the ministry; he says,
If there is one characteristic that is absolutely essential for effective ministry, it’s that we must first have a sense of calling-the conviction in our hearts that God has chosen and called us to serve Him. The bible tells us to make our calling and election sure. Are you convinced that God has called you into the ministry? This is very important because the ministry is not a profession that we might choose. It’s a calling of God. How do we know we are called? The ministry to the called is not an option, it’s a necessity. As Paul expressed it, “Woe to me if I preach not the gospel!”
Lately these little nuggets that I have read here and there and the “coincidental” verses that I stumble upon, or the mistaken questions of someone I meet in a grocery store or at a coffee shop asking me if I am a pastor; only serve as further confirmation that the LORD has this in mind for me. So I wait, not on the echo, but the LORD. I know that He is using this season to prepare me. Every so often I will push at the door to see if it will open before me. If it does not budge I wait. I know that He has the keys and when it is time, I will push and the door will open.Â The LORD was so patient with me to stand at the door and knock. It’s no wonder that He bids us to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. We are to follow in His footsteps after all. And so I am content to knock until the door is opened, for this is the door that I have been born again to walk through.
I had another “candy wrapper” incident that occurred on Christmas morning this last year. My wife and I are content with buying our kids Christmas presents and don’t really do anything extravagant for each other for the holiday. Usually we give each other a small gift, a book or something of that nature. This year I opened up my Christmas present from my wife, and wouldn’t you know it. It was a book from Andy Stanley, the son of the famous preacher Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries, a teacher that I have listened to for over 20 years now. The title of the book is Visioneering. As I read through the book aloud to my wife, it was if Andy had been spying on us for the past 8 years! So now, I am at that point where I am again standing before the door knocking. The LORD knows the when, and the how, but He has used my lovely bride to arm me with the tools to inspire a refined vision. I can’t wait to see what the LORD will do.
LORD, I stand before you in awe of Your majesty. You have known me since before time ever was, You know my sleeping and my rising up. You have counted my days and given each one of them to me as an opportunity to glorify Your name. As my wife so aptly put it this evening, where can we go that You are not there? Your Spirit haunts me, in a good way of course, but I know it is You. You have given me a hunger and a thirst to do Your will. Please forgive me LORD for the shallow man that I am. I am a sinful man and do not deserve to be in Your presence. Still You are hard after me. You convict me with Your WORD and wound my flesh daily. I am beaten and bruised. I feel as if my life is a series of mistakes, one after another. Yet You pick me up and clean me off and set me again on my way. I know that I will never arrive by my own strength and when I fall You carry me. Ever closer, day by day into Your plan for my life. Sweet pain that it is, because it is purifying me LORD. I understand what Job means LORD when he says, “ThoughÂ HeÂ slayÂ me, yet will I trust Him.Â Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.”Â Â -Amen