Have you ever felt God calling you to a certain action or decision? And have you ever come to the point of obedience in regard to that call, only to sense that it has changed? I have experienced this at many points in my life. For example, I felt that God was leading me to go on a mission trip to Cuba. I was given an unexpected passion to minister to the Cuban people, and as a result, I committed to go. Just as I completed my application and was accepted for the team, the trip was cancelled. I was offered a position on the team headed to Poland. What was I to do? Hadn’t God called me to Cuba? What had gone wrong? I quickly came to realize that I had not “misheard” or misinterpreted God’s call. He wanted me to respond to his call to Cuba in order to get me to the position of responding to his next call to Poland.
For another example, I felt that God was drawing me to a career in Youth Ministry. I submitted to this idea, and as I pursued it in obedience, I was increasingly convinced that I was better suited for a career in the academy, teaching college students about the Scriptures. Had I been wrong about Youth Ministry? Had I fabricated a “calling” that simply wasn’t from God? Again, I believe that God called me in a certain direction so that I would obediently follow until the point that I could see my new direction. I would never have taught Bible if I hadn’t first come to a place of willingness to the call to Youth Ministry.
I have come to see my life as a string of these callings and counter-callings. Consider this metaphor: you stand blind-folded in a large room filled with furniture. Your friend must guide you to the door on the other side of the cluttered room, but he may only speak your name as he guides you with his voice. The best way for him to navigate you through the room is to stay close by you, a few steps ahead, and call you forward. So your friend may lead you to the right to avoid a couch. You know nothing of the obstacle or your end location, so you may assume that the door is to the right. As you respond in obedience to your friend’s voice, you move past the couch. He is now free to call you from another direction. Were you wrong about the original call just because the new call seems to be taking you in a new direction? Not at all! It was necessary for you to move to a point where the call could be further developed. Though the direction of the call may change a dozen times, it is all part of navigating you successfully to the door. Though you see none of this, your friend sees it all. Your responsibility is simply to follow the voice wherever it leads, one step at a time.
So it may be with God’s calling in our lives. We are blind. We see neither the end nor the obstacles. We cannot foresee one minute of the future. But our faithful Lord sees. His desire is that we follow his voice in obedience as he guides us to our ultimate end. Though it seems the “call” may change, it is really just another stage in God’s guidance and our submission to his leading. So don’t be distressed if you respond to God’s clear calling only to find that he begins to again call you elsewhere. You have been moved to the correct position and may proceed to the next phase of God’s calling in your life. Simply trust that your Lord sees all and is patiently guiding each of your steps. If you respond to him, he will bring you to the end he has for you. And at the completion of your journey in obedience, you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”