Hearing God's Call

Commentary by Ben Bowen King

"The Call” from God’s Tatoos
by William Lee Ellis

Quick confession:  I was going to church one recent Sunday until I saw the sermon topic posted on the sign outside: “HEEDING GOD’S CALL.”  I gunned the car and kept rolling.

OK, so I did eventually go back—but only because I had volunteered to bring the donuts for Sunday morning fellowship—a make or break ministry in some denominations.  But let’s return to my problem about “God’s Call.” 

I’m uncomfortable with the subject because I’ve often gotten what I thought was “The Call,”  only to have it turn out to be a wrong number.  But that’s why I like William Lee Ellis’s masterpiece of a song, “The Call.”

It starts out with a slow slide guitar solo that puts you in a reflective mood—sort of like when you get to church, slide into the pew and start daydreaming.  Then BAM—William Lee takes off like a “preacher on fire,” spewing lines you’ve heard concerning everything from funds for the “new building” to aiding the less fortunate:

Will you have the heart to listen?
Will you have the strength to follow?
When the call comes loud and clear

The trouble for many of us is that God's call doesn’t come in “loud and clear.” Being human we imagine it should entail taking on a Mother Teresa-style ministry that “makes a difference in the world.”

When we imagine getting God's call, it's rarely anything low-key like visiting senior citizens who, on the following day, might not remember our having been there.  After all, this is “God’s Call.”   We’d like to think He has big plans for us.  In the meantime, we wait for the “right” call.  William Lee sort of lets us off the hook:

Every road can’t be followed
Every bridge can’t be crossed

So there we are back where we started—waiting.  At the song’s beginning we may have initially tapped our feet, clapped our hands and got wound up thinking how great it is that we finally “GOT THE CALL.”  But William seems to indicate that it may have been just Adrenalin?   Or was it someone else getting us to be part of their “Call”?   William Lee has the answer, but he hides it toward the end of the song:

Who knows where it will end?
On our private path to glory

The key word here is “private.” God isn’t about the big show, fancy fireworks and splashy headlines.  When we really get “the call,” it starts and stays in our hearts.   When you read the biographies of the saints—whether it’s Mother Teresa, Gandhi or St. John of the Cross—they all have one thing in common.  Their call started in their hearts and that’s what sustained them through the hard times.  Should we expect anything more?   

PRACTICE:  Think about where “Divine Direction” comes from in your life.  Is it from reading scripture?  Sermons?  Conversations with friends?  Or does it just come out of the blue?  How do we separate God’s wishes from our own?   What do we do, in the meantime, while we’re waiting to get “The Call”?


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