Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Call and Our Will

I received a comment last week saying that God uses the willing. My initial reaction was total agreement. My personal cross-cultural call experience consisted of me telling God: “If You want me, I am willing to go,” and Him telling us ten years later: “It’s time.”

However, I got to thinking about it and really had to ask: How much does our will ultimately have to do with our calling?

Without looking too exhaustively at all the examples of God’s calling in the Bible: Moses was called and one would have to say he was less than willing in his acceptance of the call. Isaiah readily volunteered even when the call seemed to be a general one and not specifically addressed to him. Abraham believed God and willingly set out from his home. Zechariah doubted God and was struck dumb. Peter didn’t think he was worthy enough and required some convincing. Barak placed conditions on his calling and was limited in his usefulness. Many of the disciples seemed to follow the call of Jesus when he was a complete stranger to them.

How many people do we see in the Bible who are called and say no? We are hard pressed to find anyone. Maybe the rich young ruler but, was he really called? Jesus tells him to, “follow me,” but it seems more as though he has approached Jesus. Jesus was not looking for another follower here. We get the feeling that Jesus knows what the man’s response will be—that he will not be able to do what is asked of him. Jesus seems to be using this moment to teach, both the young man and the disciples. Did the man ever come around and turn his life over to God? We don’t ever find out, but this story does not seem to fit with a true call of God.

At this point I would have to say that I think God does use the willing, but He also uses the unwilling. God uses everyone He chooses, and our willingness plays no role in that choice. Willingness can play a role in our level of contentment, however.

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