To speak of “being called” by God sounds a bit presumptuous in our ears, yet that is precisely the language the New Testament uses to speak of how God draws us into His mission. Even Jesus came to call sinners (Matthew 9:13/Luke 5:32). The apostle Paul framed his own ministry as calling people to “the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 1:5). Therefore, not only did God call Paul but Paul’s ministry to others is how God called others to follow Jesus. Moreover, the author of Hebrews refers to our “heavenly call” (Hebrews 3:1) and Peter reminds us to make our “calling and election” certain (2 Peter 1:10). So, this calling of God is something God does but also requires our active participation.
Beginning with the story of Moses, the Bible contains several notable “call narratives,” stories where people have an encounter with God that alters forever the course of their lives. Additionally, these call narrative have some consistent patterns that can inform us about how God might be calling us today.
Using Exodus 3 and 4 as a model, we find that Moses experiences a revelation of God (3.1-4). In this revelation, God expresses his motive (3.4-9) for appearing to Moses, which then leads into God’s commission (3.10) of Moses to a special task. Moses will, of course, issue some objections (3.11ff) to the mission God has just assigned him and God will meet these objections with reassurance (3.12) that God will be on the mission with him. Finally, God will offer Moses several signs (3.12; 4.1-5) both to confirm to others that he is on God’s mission but also to assure Moses that he is not on the mission alone.
While God’s call of us may not be as dramatic as Moses’, I do believe that God calls us in a similar way: There comes a time when we “see” God, maybe through a dramatic revelation of God but often it is through preaching, teaching or someone’s quiet faithful life. But when we see God, we come to know his motives. He loves us intensely and wants to be in relationship with us. However, we, like Moses will often object to God’s interference in our lives, but God will again reassure us that he is with us and he will give us signs along the road that he is there and that we have truly been called by Him.