God called out Samuel’s name three times before Samuel realized it was God calling (1 Samuel 3). After the fourth calling of his name, Samuel finally decided to respond to God. When he did respond to God, God spoke clear words of instruction over his life and Samuel’s life was never the same. God had work for him to do! I find it fascinating that God does not always get through to us on the first call.
Isaiah’s calling did not require a second call. Isaiah’s calling included an incredible vision. In that vision (recorded in Isaiah 6:1-8), God showed Isaiah the hem of his robe — God was seated on a throne, fiery creatures were flying around the throne singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty…” Within this call story, there was glory, smoke, and the foundations were shaking! Isaiah immediately began confessing his sins, he said, “woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips….” Just then a seraph flew down and cleansed Isaiah’s mouth with a fiery coal. Then God spoke the invitation, “Who will go for us?” To which, Isaiah responded, “Here am I, send me.”
When Isaiah’s vision was over, his life took an entirely new course and focus. God had work for him to do, too! It is amazing to think of all the different ways that our God reaches out to people. It’s even more amazing to wonder why the God of the universe would choose to use people like Eli and Isaiah, or me or you.
While I do not wish to speculate as to why God chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish God’s purposes, I would like to suggest God does just that. I also believe that our God is still creatively calling people. Maybe in some strange twist of events, one of you who is reading this today is praying for confirmation of your calling. I write to convince you that every one of us is called in our own way to a life of ministry. Each of us is called to carry on the work of Jesus here on earth. Everyone who has heard his call has important work to do!
We are all called and invited to be part of God’s mission here on earth (hopefully you see the many ways the church is part of your response to that calling). We are called and gifted uniquely, and we all experience God’s calling in just a little different way.
Nevertheless, our individual callings all point us in one direction — and that direction is to bring God’s love, to share God’s grace, and to live our lives in a way that others might see that God is real, that God is great, and that God has work for them, too.