I used to think of God’s calling on my life as something like a train.
I had to get my life right so that I would be ready for the train. I had to keep my eyes peeled and my ears open for the train’s whistle, because if I missed it, I’d be up a creek, lost in an aimless life.
If I did make it on the train, I had to immediately get to work – no time for questions, no room for errors. I had one chance to get it right.
So whenever any opportunity to serve opened up, I took it. Giving devotionals to kids at a boarding school? I’ve always been bad with kids, but sure! Preaching a sermon for a women’s event? I’m scared to death, but let’s do it! Leading a ministry at my church? I’m dreading it, but I guess I have to!
And when each opportunity came and went, leaving me with no more clarity about what God really wanted me to do with my life, I struggled with discouragement.
Was I doing this right? How could I make sure I didn’t miss the “God’s Calling” train?
What did I have to do to become a true worker for God?
Love is patient
Samuel made it look easy.
He was growing into a helpful young boy, working with Eli at the tabernacle. It looked like he was all set – born into God’s calling for his life, he was securely on that train.
But then one night, everything changed.
God spoke directly to Samuel – He literally called his name. At first, Samuel couldn’t recognize His voice. He ran to Eli, thinking he was the one talking.
So was that it? If this was God’s true calling, had Samuel missed out? Unprepared for the call, was he going to be left out in the cold?
No, God stayed put. He kept calling Samuel. Persistently, lovingly, patiently.
Until finally, thanks to Eli, Samuel realized who was really speaking. After that, getting on the train was simple. He said, “Here I am, Lord”, and God gave Samuel his first prophetic message. It was, in fact, the first prophetic message any Israelite had been given for a long time.
The next day was the real test. It was Samuel’s first assignment from God: deliver God’s message to Eli. Samuel couldn’t get this wrong, or else God would be disappointed, and leave him, right?
But Samuel was scared. He was young. Eli was his elder. What if he got mad? What if he shouted at Samuel?
So God, knowing Samuel’s heart, gave him a push. He troubled Eli’s conscience so much that Eli was convinced Samuel’s message was about him. He asked Samuel for the message first.
And Samuel took a deep breath and gave it.
“I want you to work with Me, not just for Me.”
God called Samuel to be a prophet.
But He was also patient with Samuel. He understood Samuel. He knew his heart, his fears, and his confusion. And so when Samuel faltered, God gently held his hand and walked with him.
Not because Samuel was special, or just because Samuel was young, but because God loved Samuel.
So often the thought of working for God is surrounded by stress, worry, and fear:
How will I figure out what He really wants?
What if He asks me to do something scary?
How do I do it right?
But Samuel’s experience working with God is an example for all of us. God loves us. He knows our hearts. He knows what we need. He knows how to talk to us and how to get our attention. He knows how to comfort us and how to give us strength.
Living out God’s calling on our life is not like working for a mysterious taskmaster, but like working with a loving, powerful Friend.
Samuel learned that he could trust God. We can trust Him, too.
And Samuel would soon see the amazing things God had planned for his life. And when we accept God’s calling on our life, we have the same thing to look forward to.
What do you think? Are you working with God? What is it like?