I rarely answer my phone anymore. It’s often people I don’t want to talk to, like the student workers at my campus’s alumni office calling to ask me to donate (umm… can we at least wait until I have my student loans paid off?) or it’s a bad time, like I’m about to walk into work or the new episode of Scandal is about to start. And I’m certainly not answering a phone number I don’t recognize, sure it might be Taylor Swift inviting me to join her girl squad, but it might also be someone with one of those phone scams where they edit your phone call to sound like you agreed to pay them a million dollars. I’m just not willing to risk it.
I don’t think I’m alone in my new quasi-fear of the phone. But there is also something special about a phone call. It holds an almost nostalgic factor, like a letter from old friend. There is something important about spending time in conversation with someone, holding up your phone to your ear (even though my ear gets weirdly sweaty). Maybe it’s the fact you can’t see each other, so you don’t need to worry about how your hair looks or the fact that there is no record of what you said, so there can be no scrolling back up the page over thinking the emoji you used, or maybe it’s the simple fact that when your phone is held up to your ear you can’t scroll through instagram. I digress, this isn’t about your best friend from college calling you to tell you about the boy she may or may not be seeing, this is about a call from God.
“Being called to do something” is one of those Christian giveaway words, where even if you don’t say a single other word about Jesus, I know you probably also know the words (and hand motions) Waves of Mercy. For people who run in these circles, “being called” to do something means that you feel this tug in your heart to do something. Here’s where things start to get dicey. Your heart doesn’t have a traditional caller id. It isn’t too often when you actually get the burning bush, so it pretty easy to convince ourselves that the tug we’re feeling is just some crazy whim.
How do you discern what is a real call from God and what is just you? I think when we ask this question in the abstract it’s pretty challenging to give a clear answer, but when you are actually honest with yourself, it is pretty clear, we just don’t always like the answer. And the scarier (and by scarier I mostly mean vulnerable) something is, the more likely it is God calling you. Because calling people to do the scary stuff is kind of what he does best. He calls us to stand up to people in power (like Moses) and to do the impossible (walk on water) and to choose radical compassion (the good Samaritan).
As the Pinterest saying goes, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” God doesn’t call us to comfortable lives, he calls us to live our truth radically in the face of doubt and fear. Following God is not a promise for an easy life of luxury, but is a promise for a life of joy. Because what is more joyful than living your life choosing faith over fear?