I snapped my head around in the direction of the voice. Did I hear my name? I could not spot anyone I recognized.
The voice came again. This time laced with anxiety. “Sonya, come back over here.”
Then I saw her: a little girl who had wandered off in the cereal aisle. I smiled as her father walked over and took her hand to lead her back to the cart. I was relieved that I was not needed and could get back to my shopping—but that scene would not let me go.
The memory troubled me as I loaded my groceries into the car and drove home. Father, do I ignore You the way that toddler did when her Daddy was calling? What is a calling anyway?
According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary a calling is “a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.” We can gain insights into what a calling looks like in real life by considering accounts given in Scripture of God interacting with His people.
Isaiah had a personal encounter with God that included smoke and earthquake-like shaking. An angel told Mary the details of her calling. They were convinced that their assignments were from the Most High.
Abraham’s obedient servant found a wife for Isaac at the watering hole after praying for God’s favor. Saul, blinded on the road, entered Damascus where he received his calling and immediately undertook it. Both men made their way through stretching circumstances directed by the Most High.
Esther risked her life to enter the throne room, and God’s chosen people were saved from annihilation. Joseph took his wife and infant son to Egypt, and the Christ-child grew to adulthood. They found their calling in service for the Most High.
These biblical examples take on a sense of urgency in light of the book of Haggai the Prophet. God’s people had abandoned the building of the Lord’s house for sixteen years while they enjoyed the luxuries of their own homes. Haggai delivered the Lord Almighty’s message, repeating twice over, Give careful thought to your ways (Haggai 1:5, 7). He pointed out their deteriorating situation as they continued to ignore God’s calling.
The people came together in repentance and obedience. They took up their calling and resumed the building project. As a result, Haggai brought a fresh report: “Be strong, all you people of the land,” declares the Lord, “and work. For I am with you,” declares the Lord Almighty. … “In this place I will grant peace,” declares the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:4, 9).
I am thankful God does not always send an earthquake, take our sight, or include a life risk to make His will known. Nor does He always provide an angel, a herd of camels, or an exotic tour to guide us. He does, however, communicate our assignment, direct our steps, and use us in His service. We are expected to offer Him our attention, obedience, and devotion.
Jesus Himself lays out the process: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27). Isaiah models the proper response. I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
Father, cause us to respond to Your calling without delay. Please tune our willful-toddler hearts to Your voice and set our wayward feet on Your path. Amen.
Questions to consider: How do you recognize you are ignoring God’s calling? How do you tune your “willful-toddler” heart to hear His voice?