Hearing the Call – however unlikely
1 Samuel 3.1-10; John 1.43-51
Unlikely calls are how our Lord does things. It’s amazing and often surprising who God calls into roles and ministries of differing sorts – not just ordained ministry. (But even there, God chooses to call people according to values we don’t always understand.) Even those who are called are as startled as anyone else to find themselves drawn into this breathtaking chase of God’s purposes for them. It all starts with God’s very accurate and detailed knowledge of who we are, who we really are – when no-one is looking.
How well does God know you? What parts of who you are, are known? Beyond our amazing, intricate biomechanics that is. Do you think our Creator has insight into our deepest places; our dreams and passions, our ideals and hopes, our “if-onlys”? Is this the One who has had a hand in fashioning the genes, arranging our lineage – building our multi-stranded history that lead to the production of you, of me?
The Psalmist reflects: You shaped me first inside…in my mother’s womb
I am marvellously made
You know me inside and out
Like an open book,
You watched me grow from conception to birth
You saw who You created before I became me
Every single moment You are thinking of me! Psalm 139
It’s not the usual picture we have of God, but here He is, desperately in love with us, He does not share in our negative image of ourselves.
I watched Guy Martin working with a team building a Spitfire almost from scratch, and saw the utter joy with which it’s builders watched it roar off into the sky, fulfilling all it’s promise.
Does it not occur to us that our Creator celebrates and sings in joy over the pinnacle of His astonishing acts of Creation?
That’s why the Lord didn’t hold back from the only solution that could bring us back to Him, to HIs loving heart (in spite of all our mess!) He wants us to hear and believe His call to follow Him, to work with Him, to find ourselves being magnificently shaped and reshaped for the purpose for which He has drawn us to Himself.
Samuel didn’t even know God spoke to people when he first heard God directing his path. He knew there was a remarkable story behind his life at Shiloh with ancient Eli. Same was after only 12 years old when God called him to a different and prophetic role in the life of Israel. He had to speak harshly to the one who had nurtured and taught him about the shame of Eli’s sons.
Once Samuel understood that this was God calling him and directing him, in spite of his inexperience and youth, he set himself to live according to God’s call – however unlikely that call must have seemed. The Lord had been making and fashioning Samuel into the person who would become one of the most faithful and respected prophets Israel would ever know.
Nathanael who? – is a question on the lips of many NT scholars. His mate Philip had just accepted the invitation to join Jesus’ inner group of followers, along with Peter and Andrew old friends of his. He’s been watching what Jesus is doing from a distance, curious, but not particularly moved and when Philip enthusiastically tells him that this new attraction in town is from Nazareth, Nathanael is plain skeptical. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” It’s kind of like saying the same thing about Maungaturoto.
And yet when Nathanael realises that Jesus knows and understands him, he is deeply moved. This skeptic will see things he never believed were possible, but because of his personal encounter with Jesus, Nathanael will follow Him to the end. He joins his future to Jesus and that of his Galilean friends. He would find himself, along with other followers, doing amazing things, seeing impossible lost lives changed, and people with disastrous illnesses and uncontrollable dysfunctions being healed and liberated. Skeptical Nathanael would be a part of that tumultuous life.
You too have a call on your life from the Lover of our souls, the Liberator of imprisoned spirits. Whatever qualification Samuel and the apostles had, we would never have taken them seriously as indicating them to be the perfect followers and interpreters of Jesus mission among the least and the lost of humanity. So even if you don’t feel all that well suited to such a call, that very fact puts you at the top of the list of possibilities. God isn’t looking for superstars, His greatest pleasure and deepest trust is in those who simply love and trust Him, and would go to the ends of the earth if He asked.
Such is the love of God and the power of our Saviour, that even when we stumble, He picks us back up and breathes new life into us by His Spirit. In this very act we are made into shining stars in God’s forever kingdom enterprise in our here and now.
Please hear this as an expression of the Lord’s compassion on you and those among whom He has placed you – an affirmation of your worth and your value, whatever state you find yourself in as one who is essential to His outrageous plan to reclaim humanity from it’s lost beauty and purpose.