Do you ever wonder about this mysterious concept known as “God’s Call”? We’ve heard it many times in church, “God is calling you”, “Respond to God’s call”, “These leaders are called by God.” There is even an old hymn that goes opens this way, “Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. Calling for you and for me.”
The questions are inevitable: What is God’s call? How do I know I’m called? How do I answer?
A quick look at the life of Elisha in the Bible gives us an idea. Perhaps it won’t clear up all things in your head, but the Bible doesn’t give many specifics, rather it gives us the principles we are to follow. By this I mean that you can look all through the Bible and will not find anything at all on the exact place you are to live, who you are to marry, what job you should do, what education you should pursue or, most importantly for husbands, to what restaurant should I REALLY take my wife when she says, “Whatever you like.”
When you read the story in 1 Kings 19 you see Elijah in a crucial point in his life. He had just experienced a huge demonstration of God’s power and victory, yet it really changed nothing in Israel. Again, he was on the run for his life. This time, though, he had had enough. He was ready to end it all. We read a beautiful story of how God came to Elijah at his lowest point and gave him exactly what he needed. This is the God we worship, serve and love.
One of the things God did was establish new leadership in the land, and then appointed a new prophet to take Elijah’s place. This wasn’t a punishment, it was God giving Elijah the proper rest he needed and giving Israel the new prophet they needed. 15 Then the LORD said to him: 1 Kings 19”:15-16, “Go,return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”
Elijah followed God’s plans: “So he [Elijah] departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.” 1 Kings 19:19
Elijah heard God’s voice and obeyed. In one sense, this was easy. He actually heard God’s voice describing God’s plans.
What about us, because it doesn’t seem many of us hear God’s audible voice? Let’s take a look at Elisha, now. Some things happened here and now he had to respond. They were from God, but he didn’t hear an audible voice in the wilderness. All he got was a used cape.
20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:20-21
Although he didn’t hear God’s audible voice, Elisha knew he was being called by God. Here are some principles to follow:
- Go to the Bible. At the time Israel didn’t have the whole Bible, but they had enough to know God’s will and desire. Also, Elijah was a prophet of God, speaking God’s word. We have the Bible, God’s word. In it we find the principles and messages that God wants us to know to guide our lives and decisions. The call we feel we are getting must line up with principles found in the Bible. We must be called to that which, in and of itself, must bring glory to God, be a good testimony of Jesus and reflects Biblical values in carrying out the work.
- Pray. Ask God. Talk to Him. Then be quiet and listen.
- Confirm. Elisha knew he was being called to be a prophet. He went to Elijah to ask him permission to return home, say his farewells and then go follow him. Elijah didn’t contradict him or explain everything. His own response was confirmation. Surround yourself with godly friends who know the Bible and life. Talk to them and be prepared to listen to get confirmation. Most importantly, ask God to confirm. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
- Respond. As the old Nike shoes commercial said, “Just do it.” Elisha left everything behind and followed Elijah, eventually becoming the next prophet to Israel.
The first thing we know about God’s will is that he wants all to have faith in Jesus Christ. Deal with that first. Second, grow. Read your Bible. Pray. Serve. Surround yourself with wise, godly people. Practice listening. Be bold and try something.
God will lead you, be ready now.