I am currently reading through a book called Home Tonight by Henri Nouwen which is a follow up to his book The Return of the Prodigal Son. Early in the book Nouwen describes his decision to leave Harvard and become a director at a L’Arche community, which is a home for mentally handicapped persons.
He discusses the process of making this decision and finding God’s will in his life. He wanted to follow spiritual signs that might point him in the correct direction and these are his thoughts on hearing God’s call. Nouwen says, “The spiritual signs are simple, not complicated, persistent, seemingly impossible, and will about about others and not just yourself.”
2. The calling will be persistent. Instead of hearing it one time, it will be something that confronts you repeatedly. Maybe a thought of something you should do enters your mind, but you quickly dismiss it only finding that you cannot escape it. When God is calling you, he will keep doing it until you hear him. You will have no choice but to act.
3. The task may seem impossible to you. As you examine the task and evaluate your ability to accomplish it, you will feel like you are about to climb Mount Everest with Richard Simmons for a guide and piece of twine for a harness. For Nouwen it was giving up an illustrious academic career at Harvard to direct a home for mentally handicapped persons. For a friend of mine, it is planting a church in Cleveland. Whatever the task is, you will need to look outside of yourself to accomplish it. You will need God.
4. The goal will be about others and not just yourself. God is not calling you to miraculously find the winning lottery ticket so you can retire to a caribbean island and sit on the beach all day drinking margaritas. Your work, ministry, and efforts will have a positive impact on somebody else, and this positive impact on others will be a source of the benefit to you. Your reward will not be on earth, but it will be in heaven.
In what ways have you heard God’s voice calling you to a certain ministry or work?
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