The Push and Pull of the Call

Posted: January 10, 2012 in Spiritual Growth
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Have you ever wondered why it seems God pushes some people into their calling, while other people seem able to dream up things that God blesses? There are two ways we approach God and our own calling. Each are valid, but I wanted to explore the possibility that these approaches are not mutually exclusive.

Some come to God asking for his will to be done, not their own. They are aptly convinced of God’s sovereignty and don’t mess with it. They see God as a sergeant giving orders and are happy to jump at each command. To understand pure devotion and unquestioning obedience is important. A soldier’s desires are irrelevant. He is a slave to the army in which he serves. He does nothing without a direct order. Scripture even uses the terminology of a slave when speaking of our new life in Christ. We are now slaves to righteousness, rather than slaves to sin. These people respond to the push of God and he honors their obedience.

There is ample biblical evidence that God moves upon people to initiate a calling. Here are some examples of God surprising and challenging people to step up to a call they’d never imagined: Mary (called to mother the Son of God), Gideon (called to deliver a nation), Noah (called to preserve humankind). These are people who may have been overwhelmed by their calling but submitted to it, trusting God to give them the courage they needed and desires to match the call. All of them heard the call clearly and then rose to the occasion by faith. We hear frequent sermons on obedience such as this.

But equally noteworthy are people who have a different experience. There are those who come to God more like a lover or a child. They notice scriptures that speak of the fact that we are free in Christ, no longer mere slaves. They come to God on the basis of intimacy. They make the audacious assumption that God cares about their own opinions, desires, hopes, dreams. They seem to think that they have special access and audience with God. They boast that on the basis of their relationship, that they can move the hand of God. They consider themselves friends of God.

Such people had a desire to follow a great calling and they moved the heart of God by their own desires: Elisha (asked God for a double portion), Peter (desired to be Jesus’ most devoted follower), Joshua (asked for the sun to stand still), Hannah (plead with God for a son). In these situations, God waited until they exercised their will to move his heart before he did anything for them. These people pull on God and see results.

How do you view the will of God for your life? Are you a soldier, waiting for a command? Or are you more like a lover, seeking to build the life of your dreams? Do you wait for God to lay out instructions for you like he did for Noah’s ark, or are you living out of the overflow of your heart, like David and his psalms? Do you wait for a push or do you start pulling?

Interestingly, Moses experienced both sides during his relationship with God. God told him his calling and he freaked, but reluctantly followed. Over time, he learned that he could actually change God’s mind, causing him to relent from his anger toward the Israelites. He learned to pull after he had been pushed.

God seems to push the levers on each circumstance of our lives to prime us for our calling, though we don’t understand any of it. Meanwhile, he pulls on the strings of our heart, giving us desires we cannot ignore, causing us to become dissatisfied with anything less. So then it’s our turn to push. We push in our drive toward the thing he has placed on our heart. We start pulling on heaven to get what we need, to change our circumstances. This struggle is the essence of our calling, our purpose, our destiny.

To further illustrate, consider Esther. God pushed her into a place of influence whether she wanted to be there or not. He created circumstances around her to pull out her desires. Her desires that lurked within were for the salvation of her people. God happened to agree with that desire, but he waited for her to push on earth and pull on heaven for her answer. He loves the tug of war, he loves to see courage rise to the surface of his meek ones. He doesn’t want to do it himself or he would have done it already. He waits for us to partner with him. He wants us to be submissive, but not brainless and heartless automatons. He wants us fully alive, fully engaged.

You may not think you know what you want. God has a calling for you and all you have to do is be obedient. Be prepared for the push to require more of you than you knew you had. Or you may know exactly what you want and God is just waiting for you to pull on him to do it. Most likely its going to be a combination of pushing and pulling. Pay attention to God’s desires, and pay attention to your own. Together you will create something wonderful. What God has in store for you is scary good if you are willing to believe!

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