Expecting a Call?

Mark 1:14-20 - January 22nd, 2005

A mother had put her young son to bed and he kept calling out to her for various reasons and she would go to his bedside. When had called out "Mama" for the umpteenth time her patience had worn thin. When she heard him call out "Mama" again, she said, "If you call 'Mama' one more time, I'll have to spank you!" After that there was quiet. Then, just as she sat down for a moment of rest, she heard him call out quietly, "May I have a drink of water, Mrs. Green?"

We call out to God over and over, don't we? And yet, God never gets tired. In fact, God urges us to call out to him as often as we feel the need. Isn't that wonderful? We call out over and over and God's patience never wears thin.

God calls out to us as well. Jesus calls to the first disciples in our Gospel lesson today. They listen and they follow him. It seems so simple, really, when we read about it. Jesus calls, and they drop what they're doing and the follow him. Were they expecting a call? Why was it so easy?

The Bible doesn't answer that question because we really don't know anything about these men until Jesus encounters them in various settings and calls out to them, asking them to follow him. These first disciples we learn were fishermen. Why did they follow so easily? Surely it wasn't because he said "I'll make you fishers of men"? I wonder if they even understood what that meant.

The point is they just dropped what they were doing and followed. They were ordinary men, not trained in any special way for the task that Jesus had in store for them. Even if they didn't understand what he had in mind for them to do, they heard his voice and followed.

Consciously I don't think they were expecting a call. Over and over in the Bible we see that God calls on the most ordinary of folk to perform some incredible tasks. He called on Abraham, he called on Moses, he called Jonah; he called on David when he was just a simple shepherd boy, he called on these fishermen, and he keeps on calling folks like you and me. Well, in fact, not LIKE you and me, but very distinctly YOU and ME.

He calls each one of us to specific tasks when we least expect it. I'm not talking about calling us to life changing occupations (though he certainly does do that-six of us pastors had dinner together this week and five of us answered the call to ordained ministry after we were forty, and some even after they were 50).

But even after you are called by God to the occupation you are in, God still calls to each of us to fulfill specific tasks. Remember last week I told you that God called you to be here today. Whatever the reason you think you are here, it's not the reason unless you believe God called you to be here at worship this morning. You didn't just wander in here or come here out of blind habit, or come because your spouse made you or your parents threatened you. God, the Holy Spirit, called you and led you here.

Some times God has to call to us over and over before we listen to the call. And even then, after we hear the call, we resist answering it. But God never gives up. God never loses patience with us.

Sometimes God calls to our hearts and no one else hears it but us. Sometimes God calls to us through someone else and we don't realize that God is calling to us. Jesus calls to us and the Holy Spirit opens our hearts so that we can hear the call.

Now, we're a step ahead of all those folks whom Jesus called to, but we don't act like it. That is, they had no idea he was going to call them, and many of you show up here week after week as though God didn't call you here, and as though he had nothing specific for you to do.

There are men and women who are day laborers-they show up at a certain spot and hope they hear their name called, or hope that the person hiring points to them, they hope they will be called and have something to do.

Many folks show up at worship (not realizing or acknowledging that the Holy Spirit leads them here-each and every time) with no hope in their hearts that they will be called to some specific task, no desire to hear the Lord calling to them. In fact, some folks DREAD being called to do something.

But God is going to get each and every one of us. God is relentless. God is after each and every one of us. Christianity is the only major religion where God seeks us. In other world religions it is just the seeker looking for God, their God isn't looking for, seeking THEM out.

If something doesn't seem to be going your way, you should stop and look at the situation and listen to see if God is calling you to do something else. If you have a dream in which you are doing something specific, and in your waking hours you have been hearing about a task that needs doing or a position that needs filling you should seriously consider that God might be calling you to it.

You can hear me week after week mentioning specific things that need to be done here at Trinity or specific positions that need filling, but everything doesn't apply to every one of us. But for SOME of you, after you hear that general call, God then speaks to you quite specifically, calls to you quite specifically. Only you, of course know that. You may have lots of excuses why it's not you, the biggest probably being (just like all the others God called to specific tasks in Scripture-like our fishermen today who were called to tasks that they had no training for) you don't think you are qualified. If God calls to you, don't worry about your credentials. Just show up for duty. The Holy Spirit will see that you get all the training you need.

I first heard the call to ministry when I was 18 and in the army. When I got out of the army I didn't heed the call and waited until I was 25. Then I went back to school and finished college and went on to seminary. But I left seminary when I was 29. I went on to various occupations, including teaching and being a single foster parent. And I didn't respond to the call to ordained ministry again until I was 41 and finally was ordained when I was 45. God was relentless. God didn't give up on me. God had something specific in mind and was determined to get me to do it.

And of course, it didn't stop there. Once I was ordained there were specific SORTS of ministry to which God called me. And then there were specific PLACES that God called me to ministry.

It's not only the big picture to which Jesus calls us (to follow him, to be a Christian); it's also specific tasks within that framework. It isn't just that you were called to be a member or friend of Trinity, to worship here, but God called you here for a specific reason because of how you were equipped by God. You might not yet have the training you need, but you have the potential that God wants to work with. Jesus calls you, the Holy Spirit trains you.

Each week and each day there is something specific. There is someone that God will bring into your life-maybe just for a brief few moments, maybe for an hour, maybe for a day-that you are to learn from or that you are to share with, or both. There's always something specific.

You are always somewhere where God wants to use you. When you sit down in a pew it is never by chance that you sat where you did. Whenever you come to worship it is never by chance that you show up the day that the message is specifically geared to what you need, or someone says something to you that you need to hear, or someone is waiting to hear the message that God has put on your heart to give to them.

So, we read in Scripture today how Jesus calls to the first disciples. And Jesus still calls to us to day to be his disciples, to follow what he has instructed us to do, to keep our hearts open for further instructions as to what he calls us to do. And just as Jesus calls us, the Holy Spirit equips us and trains us for whatever it is we are called to do.

Listen carefully, because Jesus is calling you.

(Cell phone prop. Pr. Linda calls my cell phone --Phone rings and I answer and say to the congregation…)……It's for you.


Read more sermons by Pastor Brie