How to Feel Called in No Easy Steps

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?

focusin' mind

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?

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9 thoughts on “How to Feel Called in No Easy Steps

  1. Matt, my friend,
    You struck the marrow of the Christian life here. This is one of our biggest, most-returned-to issues that we never seem to solve. You helped steer us in the right direction, pointed us toward God, and eased our anxiety…all in a couple of paragraphs. Thank you. Oh, and maybe we begin moving toward being pillar-of-cloud followers by surrendering our own plans for our lives, and praying for God to take us where he wants to. Of course, though, the hardest part is getting up and walking.

  2. Thanks for a concise briefing on such a poignantly confusing topic, Matt. I am so glad we could talk last week! What a joy to share hearts again and let the truth of God prevail in our lives.

    I’m trying to remind myself of this perspective: “Quickly our “calling” descends into simply another means to exercise control over our lives, albeit with a thin veneer of God-told-me-so.” and that I need to keep checking every step and noticing every small work of God’s leading.

    1. Jason, my friend. It was such a blessing to talk with you. This post, in case you didn’t catch it on Twitter, came directly out of our conversation (indeed, I must ask your forgiveness for not giving clearer credit where credit is due!). After talking with you I feel confident you are pursuing the right thing for this chapter; it seems you have more than just “small works” going in your life. Of course, these paths are never necessarily easy. Continuing to pray for you brother.

  3. Matt
    This is very very true! Since I moved to unfamiliar I have grown so so much! It’s crazy and really cool how God works! Love your blog!

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