Since following his devotion’s My Utmost for His Highest, I enjoyed reading Oswald Chambers’ writings. His words bring clarity to Spiritual truths in such a profound way I don’t get from reading other authors. I am not implying the other authors are not good. But for me, Oswald Chamber’s materials are true gold. He never softens the truth when it needs to be hard. He always brings the truth to its edge where it shows where my life still needs maturity. His materials are meant for those who take following Jesus seriously or else the reader will not have the desire to follow. Interesting, at times Jesus’ words can be sharp and feels ‘discouraging’ (see Mark 10:17-22 or John 6:60-66).
Of all the missionary-preparation books I read, by far, this book is my highest recommendation for anyone who desires or contemplate to be a missionary or missionary service. Many books talk about dealing with cultural, transition, language, and worldview issues etc., and these topics are important. Sometimes in desire to do mission, we can easily left out a missionary’s main focus, God. Oswald Chambers reinforce this over and over again.
Wai Jia and I had the opportunity to speak to many youths in various churches regarding missions. One of the frequently asked questions is how do I know God is calling me to such a place?
In the first chapter of the book, entitled ‘The Call’, Oswald Chambers shared that:
These calls are heard by a few only because the call is the expression of the nature from which the call comes, and can only be heard by those who are attuned to that nature.
Am I attuning to the one who calls? Which is God, Himself. It is so important to be able to attune or to discern His voice. Oswald used Isiah as an example. In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah was in such a crisis which he was able to attune God.
I am going to side track a bit. Notice that the immediate response Isaiah gave when he saw God was the realization of his own sin. Not just confessing sin in a general statement. But a very specific sin which he personally know he is in condemn for, a man of unclean lips. This is the response when we are in the presence of a Holy God. We instantly see our personal individual sins lit up like blood stains on our hands. This is taken from Oswald’s devotion on Utmost.
Anyway back to the call, God didn’t tell Isaiah to do anything. God was simply talking to Himself, ‘who should we send?’ (Isaiah 6:8)
Once Isaiah is attuned to God, the call comes as nature as breathing. Isaiah realized that he can do something for the Lord. He saw the opportunity. Now redeemed, forgiven, without hesitation and without regret, he said ‘Here am I! Send me.’
This birthed a ministry for Isaiah cost him his life. God used him mightily as the last warning before Judah is to receive judgement through being conquered by the Babylonians.
Back to the question that the youth asked, how do we know where God is calling us?
My standard answer would be ‘well pray about it, read the Bible, talk to your pastor, research on different missionary organizations.’ It seems so random and without an element of God in it.
The better answer is to have the right relationship with God. God’s call is not random or required some advance deciphering device. We just need to attune ourselves to be in the right relationship with God.
To be brought within the zone of God’s voice is to be profoundly altered.
The call of God is not a call to any particular service, although my interpretation of the call maybe; the call to service is the echo of my identification with God. My contact with the nature of God has made me realize what I can do for God. Service is the outcome of what is fitted to my nature. God’s call is fitted to His nature. When I have received His nature, then His nature and mine work together; the Son of God reveals Himself in me, and I, in my natural life, serve the Son of God in ordinary ways, out of sheer downright devotion to Him.
If our youths are interested on missions and are not sure what to do, the first and foremost we should help them attune their lives to God. Just like in Isaiah’s case, God didn’t ask or command him. The instant Isaiah is attuned with God, he instantly recognize the opportunity to serve.
..there is no call to service for God; it is my own actual “bit,” the overflow of super abounding devotion to God. God does not have to come and tell me what I must do for Him; He brings me into a relationship with Himself where in I hear His call and understand what He wants me to do, and I do it out of sheer love of Him.
In short, don’t focus on do, focus on having a right relationship with God. When our heart and ear is attuned to Him, our eyes will see how we can serve Him! Serving is the by-product of being in the presence of the Lord.