Excerpt from “Quiet Spaces: Hearing God’s in a Noisy World” by James Hale,
“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? … The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.” Acts 9:3-6
I don’t hear about this type of calling much these days—the kind when God’s voice is direct, thunderous, and absolute. What a joy to have His clear, unmistakable direction. “There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up” (Exodus 3). Wouldn’t it be nice to get your calling via a burning bush or a loud, thundering voice? Heck, I’d settle for a phone call, or even a text message or e-mail (if it would get through my spam filters).
It sure would make things easier for most of us if God would incorporate a little more drama into His messages. But does the lack of bells and whistles mean that people are no longer called? No, I don’t think so. In fact, there is evidence of calling for only four of the apostles—we don’t know about the other eight. And there is no evidence that Jesus ever experienced a direct call.
But surely Jesus was called. Surely the Almighty sat down with our Savior for a theatrical Father-Son chat about His to-do list, His next steps, and His specific duties for the day. If it’s in the Bible, I can’t find it. Scripture tells us that Jesus was born of man, and He stayed connected to God by periodically removing Himself from the crowds so He could discern Divine will. To communicate with God, Jesus turned the volume down on the harsh noise of the world so He could listen to the softer melodies from His Dad. The Bible indicates that even for Jesus Himself—King of Kings, Lord of Lords—messages came during the quiet spaces. God’s directions to Jesus did not intrude, scream, clatter, or demand attention.
CALLING? WHAT CALLING?
I think God is pretty much the same now as He was thousands of years ago. He hasn’t upgraded His technology. For most of us, He tells us of our callings not through shouts, but through whispers—just like He did with Jesus. And if we aren’t paying attention, we will miss them.
There are two types of callings: the loud, drama-filled, unmistakable directions that make the good Bible stories, and the quieter, more subtle, personal nudges meant for one person. These latter ones are not intended for public viewing. They are soft, personal, one-to-one messages from God to someone for whom He has a purpose. Maybe for you.
Of the two, the quieter ones are the more common, but less understood. These are ones that Jesus and so many others experienced in biblical times … and today. It’s these quieter callings I want to talk about for a moment. These are much more subtle than the dramatic ones. These messages cascade gently down from on high, and we DO hear them, but we often do not LISTEN to them.
The great physicist Albert Einstein understood the goodness of God—like most people do—but he also understood the quietness of so many of God’s greatest works and how we often miss his messages or think he’s being elusive or tricky. Einstein observed that “God is subtle, but He is not malicious.” Yes, God is deep and profound, but not devious. Understanding God often baffles and confuses us, but there is no deception, no false path. God places the cookie jar within our sight, and invites us to stretch to reach it, without any traps in the way. He calls to us in quiet, subtle ways, and none of His callings are evil or misguided. There are no tricks, no deceit, no misdirection.