Saturday, November 22, 2008

When God Calls...

I have often struggled with a message being placed on my heart, or a person who I know I must lift up in prayer (even when I don't know the specifics of why). Sometimes these things happen when I am doing nothing important. I have gotten the pleading of the Spirit to pray for someone while driving on the freeway, and have prayed immediately. But other times, God urges me at times when it's just not "convenient".

Oh, yes, I am going there!

I don't know how many times I have gotten online at nearly midnight, flat out bone-weary and spent an hour or two writing, because God has put something on my heart that I just had to write. I would love to tell you that I'm always faithful to this urging, but I'd be lying to you, and that won't help you or me. In fact, here I am on a Saturday morning, on vacation more or less, at 7:30 in the morning the only one awake in our hotel room. I'm sitting on the floor in the dark (so I don't wake the others) typing this because God is placing that urging upon my heart.

(I'd much rather climb back in bed and be sound asleep and wake totally refreshed in like two hours. I would...but I know that this is not going to happen. I know that if I ignore the Spirit, my day is going to be "off"--emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally--and it will have nothing to do with a lack of sleep. Remember Jonah?)

When God calls, we must be ready to listen. Sometimes His call is going to be inconvenient to our earthly, selfish desires. In fact, I am going to go so far as to say it ALWAYS is inconvenient to our earthly, selfish desires. That's because the Holy, Righteous, True Will of God is entirely in conflict with our human, sinful, selfish, deceitful desires. That is the nature of our sinful being.

But we must be ready to listen. We must take a moment to step back and prepare ourselves to hear God when He speaks to us. I believe it's not unlike what I see modeled in my son's second grade classroom. When Mrs. D has the children working in groups independently of her leading and needs to bring them back together, before she begins to speak she claps a rhythm. The children are instructed the first day of school that when they hear her do this, they stop talking, put down whatever is in their hands, and clap this rhythm back. But Mrs. D does not always use the same rhythm to gather their attention. The rhythm changes. And if they do not stop and listen to her rhythm each time, they will not be able to clap it back.

There are several things that really remind me of how Gods calls me in this. First is that I must be listening, at least on some unconscious level for God to "clap His rhythm" in my heart, just as Mrs. D does in her classroom. The children do not sit still and quiet all day waiting for her. In fact, it is generally because they are so busy, so loud, or so other-focused that she uses this tool. But they must know when they hear it to stop.

Oh, Father, I know what you're thinking...and I'm not ready to hear it, but I know I have to stop right now and clap! (Well, at least within my heart--the other four people sound asleep in my room will NOT be happy if I wake them up!) The second that God begins to place that urging of the Spirit within my heart and soul, I have to stop.

But stopping alone is not enough. The children stop and...........


If they do not listen, they cannot repeat her rhythm back to her. She calls. They stop. They listen.

How much like God is that? (I have this theory that all you have ever really wanted to know about spiritual growth you can learn from raising, or simply studying, small children!)

He calls us with His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. We are to stop--think of Samuel, of Jonah, of the disciples--and listen. But like Mrs. D, God commands to know that we are paying attention. There is some exercise to show Him that He has our attention. He requires that we clap back His rhythm. This morning, clapping back His rhythm meant that I got up, turned on my laptop and went to a site where my soul could be ministered to. It prepared my heart for the message He was going to give me.

Once the children have clapped back the rhythm, Mrs. D continues with her next instructions. She knows that she has their attention and can move ahead with the certainty (well, they are second graders, so I suppose there never is 100% certainty of anything! LOL) that they are going to hear and follow her instruction.

That is exactly how God works too! When we stop, when take the moment to repeat back to God the rhythm He is placing on our heart, He knows that we are ready to listen. Sometimes that is as simple as saying, "Okay, Father...I'm here. I'm ready." Sometimes it is simply saying, "Jesus." Sometimes it is removing yourself to a quieter situation where you can listen. God will shout if He needs to, but neither one of you (or me) really want that situation. It's not ideal. And then, when He knows He has our full attention, He gives us His instruction!

Now here is where we become second graders, all of us...we still have to choose to follow directions. We have to do what He has told us. (I know that I've gone so far as staying up late, getting up in the middle of the night, listen, but have ignored His instruction.) When we do what the Spirit leads us to do, there is immense blessing for us and for others. But when we ignore Him, that is where we invite trouble in (remember the whale and our good friend, Jonah?).

God is our teacher, and we are all just a bunch of "grown up" second graders. God needs our attention, and we have to stop, listen, and obey.

(I just did.)

Father, thank you for loving me enough to call me. And thank you for blessing me this morning with an early morning wake up call. I know that I didn't want to get up. Who am I kidding? You already know that too! But I thank you for trusting me with this message, and I pray that I have been faithful enough to touch others, as well as to learn from your instruction. Continue to reign in my life so that although I may be busy living life, I am never too busy to hear your call, to stop, and to obey. I know today is going to be a wonderful day because You were first in it! In Jesus' name, AMEN.

For more about hearing and answering God's call...
--I Samuel 3: the calling of Samuel in the middle of the night
--Jonah: chapter 1 is his first calling, but it's a short the rest!
--Matthew 10: Jesus' calling of the disciples and sending them out

Be blessed, and Happy Saturday!

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