Have you ever really sat down and thought about the cast of the Old Testament?
One righteous man in all humanity, God tells him to build a boat the size of a football field because it's going to start raining.
A murdering Levite with a lisp talked with a bush and led a nation from bondage under an oppressive and hardened deity through the Red Sea.
A shepherd boy from Bethlehem didn't even have his license and he was decapitating giants and slaying tens of thousands in battle.
An old man is told by the Almighty that his children are going to be as numerous as the stars in the sky, despite his wife and him nearing their first century birthday.
The assistant to an increasingly blind and aging prophet heard from God three times before realizing it was the Great I Am.
The one thing they all have in common?
God called them and they all responded.
Throughout the Old Testament, a call is given to those God elects for His purposes. When the elect respond, unrighteous nations are crushed, fire rains from the heavens, and rejoicing takes place. When the elect choose to ignore God, fish swallow men whole, nations fall into slavery, and God strikes down the masses.
When God calls someone to action, He expects them to act, even when the odds are stacked against them. We all know of the heroic campaigns of David and the complete trust Abraham had in God's plan when He left his father's land and family for the land that God would show him. But in reading through 1&2 Samuel over the past couple weeks, the prophet's story has really spoken to me. Particularly when Samuel is first called by God.
Samuel was napping in the tabernacle under the supervision of Eli, the man he was ministering to the Lord under. Eli had grown very old and frail, his eyesight failing in his old age. That is when Samuel first hears his name called. As I think many of us would react, Samuel goes to the only physical entity in the room and tells Eli, "Here I am, for you called me." Eli dismisses Samuel saying "I did not call, lie down again" so Samuel returns to his place of rest. A little louder now, Samuel hears his name called in the darkness. He returns to Eli repeating the phrase as if Eli had called him. Eli again tells him to lie down for he did not call him. A third time the Lord calls out to Samuel and he returns to Eli's side.
Eli begins to understand what is going on now. He tells Samuel to lie down again and if he hears his name called again to say, "speak, Lord, for your servant hears."
As expected, Samuel returns to his place of rest and hears God call once more. Samuel hears the call and responds as he was instructed. God tells Samuel of the thing He is going to do in Israel, some not so good news for the house of Eli due to the wickedness of his sons.
Perceiving that Samuel had just heard from God, Eli asks him what the Lord told him and to not leave any of the details out. So that is what Samuel does. He tells Eli of the punishment his house will soon face because of the blasphemy uttered by his sons. Samuel tells Eli that no sacrifice or offering will atone for the sins his house has done against the Lord. Eli, being the man of God that he is, knows "It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him."
How many times must we be called by God before we take a step in obedience towards Him? Must we keep returning to someone or something that has not called us much like Samuel returning to Eli three times? Samuel had not experienced God before this time evident in 1 Samuel 3:1 as "the word of the Lord was rare in those days." Samuel actually had reason to return three times to Eli before speaking with God.
If you call yourself a Christian, what is your excuse to not answer His call? If you have accepted Christ as your Savior and felt His hand in your life, you are without excuse. It is not just preachers and missionaries that are called. Everyone is called by God for certain tasks, jobs, and careers based on the skills and talents He chose to design you with. There is no excuse to not respond to God's call, no matter how inconvenient or unsettling. He made you for His purposes. He gave you life so that you could glorify Him in all aspects of that life. God doesn't need us, but we need Him. I mean, He just died for you and provided the propitiation for the wages of sin, the least you could do is pick up the phone.