Another important point in my journey in understanding God’s will was a class for missions majors that I took my senior year. In it we were required to read a chapter of a book about the missions call. It said that the word “call” is only used twice in the New Testament in relation to missions. This issue was such a dilemma for me that I looked up every time the word “call” is used in the New Testament. Roughly it was used three ways.
When used of missions it was at important turning points. Paul and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit on what would be the first missions trip. It was also used to send Paul west into Greek and Roman civilization, instead of East into Asia. An individual feeling was not involved in either case.
The second way was the normally use of the word call. Even when the Bible says that Jesus called people, the context suggests nothing like “the call.” More like Jesus called his disciples to talk to them.
What was most intriguing was the third way call is used in the New Testament. According to this use every believer is called. We are called to be holy, called to be children of God, called to live for him. All of us are called to live a specific way, the way God designed us to live. Paul’s letters are full of the word call used in this manner. Nowhere in the New Testament could I find the mysterious call that had caused me so much trouble for so long.
What about the Old Testament? There are two aspects I have noticed when God directs people in the Old Testament. First he chooses specific people to do specific tasks in his specific plan. Because the Bible records God directing so many people in miraculous ways we assume it is the norm. What we miss is that the Bible records events that occurred over 1600 years. The Bible is written about specific segments of time where God is exceptionally active during those 1600 years. It records how he communicated with a select group of people to accomplish a specific result. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the lives of people in the Bible. God’s character never changes, but the ways that he shows that character might differ. We forget about all the people that lived during those times and followed God yet didn’t experience all that is recorded. Burning bushes and fingers on the wall are not the norm.
Second, God’s directions is always clear. There was no vague feeling about a call. God’s call then was a voice out of a burning bush telling Moses to take the Israelites out of Egypt. It was terrifying appearances to Isaiah and Ezekiel telling them to speak whatever words he put into their mouths. When God wants us to do something he is never vague. That is why he gave us the Bible. Wherever he appears vague there is a good chance he is giving us the freedom to decide.
Now back to me. As a part of my major I was required to have ministry experience to graduate. Never being motivated enough to do the enormous amount of work required to go on a missions trip I often end up working with kids at my church. Adding to this I am not the person that likes to make a decision far in advance or plan head. I tend to live life as it comes. Since with most missions trips need you to decide months in advance this did not work out. Instead I worked with kids at my church. I also went to Alaska for two summers to work at a summer camp. This took little advanced planning, though it probably should have. I found that I liked working with kids and kids liked me. People also liked me working with kids. People came into my life who encouraged my work with children and saw in me a natural ability to relate to kids. This leads to another important point in finding God’s will for your life.
Find what you are good at. Learn what natural gifts and abilities God has given you. Figure out what your spiritual gifts are. These will give you a good idea of where he is guiding you. If you believe that God doesn’t make mistakes than it should be obvious that he created your unique set of skills, abilities, spiritual gifts, and temperament to fit exactly with some part of his work in the world. We discover this by affirmation by other believers, especially those that are older and more mature than us. Seek there advice when discovering God’s will. They can give us a give us good perspectives on what we are good at and if we are going in a good direction. Often this means experimentation. I know I could never be on the worship team at church. I also know that I should not work in construction or with heavy machinery. Sales and restaurants are also out. These I could only discover by experience.