Calling. It’s what everyone wants – a clear call from God, clear direction, a burning bush. We hear stories of those who audibly hear God offering them instruction and jealousy raises its head. We hear stories of people having prophecy spoken over them and wonder why God couldn’t make it easier for us? Why doesn’t God give me a clear call? Doesn’t he want me to serve him in the best way possible?
These thoughts have certainly run through my mind, and I suspect through yours too. But I wonder what would happen if we were called in the way that we wanted. What if we got a burning bush?
Certainly burning bush moments give us clarity, but our sinfulness has the special ability to turn clarity into control. “Great, thanks God, I see where I’m going, now I’ll go there.” Quickly our “calling” descends into simply another means to exercise control over our lives, albeit with a thin veneer of God-told-me-so.
Is it little wonder then that God hasn’t repeated the burning bush? Last time I checked, God is never about giving us more control, but rather about us giving him control. He doesn’t want burning-bush followers, those who seek a moment of clarity around which they can steer their lives. Rather, he desires pillar-of-cloud followers, those who recognize that their very movements are deeply dependent on the leading of the Spirit.
So maybe he works in intuitions, inclinations, circumstances, coincidences for this very reason. These little things make us feel out of control. Not knowing exactly where we’re going means that we feel disoriented at times. When we have moved away from those we know and love, we feel lonely and confused. When we are still working through a break-up a year later, we just want clarity, to know when we’ll be “over it.” When tragedy or disease strikes our loved ones, the world seems to spin. Where is our calling that puts everything in perspective? And into the midst of this, the Spirit, rather than burning a bush, gently whispers and prods, “this way.”
Of course, we then have to learn to quiet ourselves and listen and feel the prodding of the Shepherd. It’s hard to give up our desire for a burning bush moment, but the alternative is a deeper, more trusting faith in the Father who is gracious beyond anything we can imagine. Not a bad alternative if you ask me.
Question for you: How can we begin moving from being burning-bush followers to pillar-of-cloud followers?