“I want you to know brothers, that the gospel I preached to you is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of our fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” Gal 1:11-17
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about in relation to this passage.
Paul was sure in his calling. The Scripture doesn’t say, “When God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles (the calling), I questioned God whether it was really Him telling me to do it or myself making it up. I looked through the Bible for some kind of confirmation, then I asked all my friends to pray about it with me for six months, after which I agonized over discerning God’s will for my life for another three months. Finally, I thought about going to Arabia and later returning to Damascus, but since I was still a little uncertain if this is what God was calling me to do, I decided to stick around and wait for another sign.” Nope; his words were “I did not consult any man” and “immediately.”
Now, I’m not saying that it is wrong to seek wisdom from godly friends, ask people to pray about our decisions with us or weigh whether or not we are acting from selfish motives or godly motives. However, sometimes we wallow in indecision because we doubt what we have heard. It’s like what Mick touched on at the end of his interview. We live in a time and place where we’ve relegated the Holy Spirit speaking to us and guiding us to the “charismatic” Christians. The truth of the matter is God has given us the Holy Spirit to teach us and remind us (John 14:26). We talk about discerning God’s will as though it’s a game of cryptography that God plays with us. We must do a specific, unknown number of Christian acts, say the right combination of prayers and cross our fingers hoping that today might be the day that He gives us the secret decoder ring. Many things are mysterious about God, but I don’t believe His will is intended to be one of those things (Eph 1:9, Jas 1:5).
So like Paul, we can be sure of our calling. We can move on immediately to follow His direction, without being paralyzed by second guessing. Because really, when we do that, we’re not trusting God. As a writer that gives me encouragement to continue writing and to know that when I hear that little voice inside me saying, “Maybe God didn’t really call you to do this” I can claim the authority of my calling and continue on.
Photo: Hunting for eggs (2007)