God Calls All of Us

Jun 03 2018

                                                                     GOD CALLS ALL OF US

The Bible is filled with stories of people who did not want to come when God called and did not want to perform the duties that God asked of them, or who felt too inadequate to perform them. Moses complained that he could not speak, therefore no one would listen to him. Jonah ran to hide from God. Paul suffered from a thorn in his side that he felt made him inadequate at times. The early disciples were mostly uneducated fishermen who had no theological training or understanding. Yet every one of them made a significant impact on the people whom they were called to lead, minister to, or simply to help in dire circumstances.

It appears in the Bible that God’s call to each of us to perform some duty for which we are particularly suited is very clear, but it also seems that it is not uncommon for people today to voice their doubts that God has called them or, like those early Biblical characters, to feel inadequate. In this morning’s story, Samuel did not immediately recognize God’s call, but eventually he responded and followed God’s call to him.

But what if we cannot hear God’s call? What if we are in the majority of people that do not even stop to think that God might have something special in store for us? What if we feel, as Moses did, that God has the wrong person for the job? That we do not have the skills to pull it off? Or what if we simply believe that God has never called us to do anything and never will?

It’s possible that some of us will never stop to think about what we do, what choices we make, or what directions our lives take as somehow being in any way related to God. Perhaps we think that God is something out there that really has no personal involvement with us, and certainly wouldn’t think enough of us to call us to something special.

But the fact is that each of us, at some time in our lives, has made at least one decision which, upon reflection, appears to have been made because we felt that it was what that still small voice in us, or what we call our intuition, has caused us to do. Maybe it was even God guiding us in a particular direction.

Even if we have never reflected or felt that way, we are all called as Christians to treat people with compassion, understanding and love. It is in the ways in which we live our lives every day that God works through us and helps us to help others. If we listen, if we look, and if we are perceptive enough to know that our intuition, that feeling in our gut that we just have to do something, or that something feels right may very well be God sending answers and directions to us when we need them. In a sense, even, when in our daily lives we become loving, understanding and compassionate, we are following God’s call to help others.

“Four law enforcement officers were escorting a violence-prone insane man to a mental institution. The man resisted.' He fought them all the way. The full strength of all four officers was needed to keep him under restraint. When they reached the hospital, the officers forced the man through the door, dragged him down a long corridor and pushed him into a chair. A cleaning woman watched intently as the man continued to struggle. Then the woman calmly walked toward the man and gently touched him. The man looked up and saw in the cleaning woman's face a look of deep concern and compassion. She put her hand on his shoulder. He relaxed. He stopped struggling. Someone brought the woman a chair. She sat down and began to speak in a caring way - as though she were speaking to a sick child. The officers released the man from their grip. The cleaning woman continued talking and, thirty minutes later, as the man was led away by a nurse, he went calmly.” (Classic Sermon Illustrations #112)

She didn’t have what we would call a prestigious job. Her job was simply to care and to have compassion on those around her. She did not need a title or a uniform; she simply needed a person who could benefit from her compassion, and she more than fulfilled her calling from God.

Maybe the problem is that we simply do not hear God’s call to us because we are not listening. On the other hand, perhaps we are creating an answer from God because we are listening in the wrong way. This is the story of the Temple and the Bells and a young man who so wanted to hear the bells, but perhaps his problem is ours when we are listening for a message from God.

“Author Anthony DeMello tells the story of a temple built on an island. The temple contained a thousand bells ... bells big and small, fashioned by the finest craftsman in the world. When the wind blew or a storm raged, all the bells would peal out in a symphony that could send the heart of the hearer into rapture.

But over the centuries the island sank into the sea and, with it, the temple bells. An ancient legend said that the bells continued to peal out, ceaselessly, and could be heard by anyone who would listen. Inspired by this legend, a young man travelled thousands of miles, determined to hear those bells. He sat for days on the shore, facing the vanished island, and listened with all his might. But he was unable to hear the bells. He kept at his task for weeks. Each time he got disheartened he would listen to the village pundits, who spoke reverently of the mysterious legend. Then his heart would be aflame ... only to become discouraged when weeks of further effort yielded no results. Finally, he decided to give up the attempt.

Perhaps he was not destined to hear the bells. Perhaps the legend was untrue. It was his final day, and he went to the shore to say goodbye to the sea and the sand and the wind and the coconut trees. He lay on the sand and, for the first time, really listened to the sound of the sea. It was the sound of silence. Soon he was so lost in that sound of silence that he was barely conscious of himself.

Then, in the depth of that silence, he heard it! The tinkle of a tiny bell, followed by another, and another, and another ... and soon every one of the thousand temple bells was pealing out in harmony, and his heart was rapt in joyous ecstasy. (DeMello, A., "The Song of the Bird"; Doubleday (adapted) – Preacher’s Illustration Service #1798).

 

Are we listening when God calls us? Do we recognize the message when it comes? Are we alert to the environment around us that can often be the answer to our prayers or the voice of God calling us

“Watch. Listen. The words to the next song you hear. The information in the next article you read. The story line of the next movie you watch. The chance utterance of the next person you meet. Or the whisper of the next river, the next ocean, the next breeze that caresses your ear…. I will speak to you if you will listen. I will come to you if you will invite me. I will show you then that I have always been there. All Ways.” (Conversations with God – Book 1 – Neale Donald Walsch)

Whether we believe it or not; whether we feel it or not; whether we act on the still, small voice we hear inside us or not, God still speaks to each of us and calls us to the tasks particularly suited to us. God still calls us to make this world a better place for ourselves and for others. God still calls us to show compassion to our fellow human beings. God still calls us to show God’s love and compassion for others in the ways in which we live our daily lives. God still calls us. The question is: are we listening? And even if we are listening, can we act? Amen.