A good question: How do I hear God’s call?
One question, four answers
‘It comes through his friend’
In John’s Gospel, Nathanael is sitting under a fig tree when his friend Philip turns up and starts babbling on about finding the one promised by the Law and the prophets. Nathanael is unimpressed. How can the Messiah be from Nazareth, of all places? Nazareth is nowhere – barely a town.
To humour his friend, Nathanael goes to look. He is ready to be cynical, but is instead completely unnerved. Jesus not only knows who he is but praises him for his honesty. How does he know? Jesus knows a good man when he sees one. And Nathanael is completely won over…
Sue McCoan is Minister of Ealing St Andrew’s and Wembley Park United Reformed Churches
‘God’s call is more about being than doing’
There have been many times when people have anxiously whispered to me that they might be being ‘called by God’. Their trepidation is understandable as acknowledging a sense of call requires vulnerability. Many of these conversations have been joyful, especially when someone develops the confidence to pursue their call. Thinking more broadly of these encounters leaves me with some sadness as they have mainly related a call to ‘the ministry’. Does God not also call people to be the elders, CRCWs, preachers, worship leaders, bible study and prayer group leaders, and do not forget the treasurers, gardeners, and protesters?
God’s call is not primarily about the role or function we play in our lives (sacred or secular), and not just about we who are ministers, but something much deeper. I believe the desire to hear God’s call should begin with an acceptance of God’s universal and unequivocal love for all – the Scriptures and Sacraments point us to this. We hear God’s call at our baptisms, as we are reminded that we share in God’s original blessing. We hear God’s call in the breaking of bread, as we are reminded of Christ’s grace and empowerment to live out this blessing…
Adam Scott is Tutor in Ministerial Formation at Northern College, Manchester
‘I heard the call in my dream’
At the age of 16, I experienced the call from God in my dream. The voice was audible, three times saying to me, ‘Come and serve me.’ I woke up in the morning and told my mum the dream I had. She exclaimed, ‘My son, God is calling you, to serve.’ My reaction was, ‘Me? NO WAY.’ This is how my journey with God began.
I was attending church as a youth but not regularly. I can remember going to church (St John’s Maroon Methodist Church, in Sierra Leone) one Sunday after my call, to make God happy, and thought he would leave me alone but he did not. I then realised that I needed to position myself, so like the hymnist I can daily say, ‘Master speak, thy servant heareth,/Waiting for thy gracious word.’..
John Macaulay is Minister of Upper Clapton United Reformed Church, London
‘A series of nudges’
My starting place would be that God’s call has not been a once in a lifetime occurrence but rather a whole series of occurrences throughout my life, discipleship and ministry to date. Often I would describe these occurrences as more of a nudge or a prompt rather than a dramatic call, but I view them as coming from God nonetheless. I think I identify God’s call to me as a two stage process – an external nudge and then an internal process of reflection or discernment.
I find that the external nudge can come from a whole variety of places: something I have read, a phrase someone may say or a question they ask, a passage of Scripture, the text of a hymn. I am much more of a word person than an image person but images too can spark off my imagination…
Lindsey Sanderson is Chaplain to the Moderator of the URC General Assembly
This is an extract from an article published in the September 2022 edition of Reform