It’s one of my favorite comedy sketches of all time – Bill Cosby playing Noah. As he plays his character, the audience imagines Noah in his woodworking shop, suddenly interrupted by an unseen voice. God begins to speak with Noah, telling him what he must do. After a moment, the call seems so impossible, so overwhelming, that Noah pauses and asks… “who is this really?”
In Noah’s case it really was God. In Judges chapter 6, it also was God – calling upon another unlikely candidate to do something impossible. His name was Gideon. And the typical path toward figuring out whether God is speaking to someone regarding a call was not really open to him. If you are thinking God maybe calling you to some task, effort or great work, what counsel if usually offered?
Well, it’s usually stuff like… talk to your family, seek wise counsel, pray, meditate, read scripture, test for an open door, examine the resources available to support it, consider what simple wisdom would suggest, ask… What is my heart saying?, consider life experience markers, and so forth. These things are kind of like typical caller ID settings for God.
But not much of that works in Gideon’s story. He didn’t have time to talk to family; matter of fact, his first act of obedience was to offend his immediate family and the town he lived in. He didn’t have a chance to seek wise counsel because his obedience was demanded that very night of the day he was called. He didn’t have time to meditate on scripture or do much praying. As for an open door, what he was being asked to do was so absurdly impossible, confining the task to something entered through a door would be like saying going to the moon requires a little money. As for what “was his heart saying” or “what would wisdom suggest“, the answer to both would have likely been “are you crazy?!!!”
What was he being asked to do? Things typical of the called…
- see himself as God saw him
- adjust his explanation of reality
- believe that his strength was enough to face a terrifying task
- refuse to look at his credentials when considering the call
- believe that God would be with him to accomplish the call
It’s easy to think this is the exception rather than the rule. But a broad study of the Bible shows otherwise. It’s not unusual for God’s calls to come a little “edgy”. They shake us up. They scare us. Reread the call of Moses, Noah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, John, Paul, and others. Not many have much to do with open doors, wise counsel, or life markers. No, the call of God (in the Bible anyway) more often has these earmarks. These are the proper caller ID settings for God. God’s call comes…
- as a statement of divine fact that requires faith to believe
- often to one, not a committee or a family
- through a messenger – still God speaking, but through the mouth of an angel or man
- in confusion – and that’s why it comes in the first place; because order is needed out of chaos
- without evidence – something that’s always in the future
- with a promise of God’s presence
Hail mighty office worker, teacher, waiter, or bus driver! Would God ever call you to something difficult?
Before you say “not me“, reconsider Gideon’s call. That voice you hear in the whine pit of your daily grind could be a call from God for you. It would be so sad if your God-Caller ID had the wrong settings so you thought it was for someone else.