As we struggle in our limited imaginations to fathom the calling of God on our lives, our reactions tend to be all over the place. But we can take great comfort in knowing that even in our hesitations, we are not alone.
Abraham, called to be a father of many nations, shared the promise with his wife. The aging couple shared a good laugh over that one, and then later came to be the mother and father of a child whose name means, "he laughs." Called to leave his homeland and go somewhere new, Abraham packed up his family and left. But he went without a great deal of confidence. He lied his way through the territories, aware more of the perils on the path than on the protection of the promise. And when called to take his son to Mount Moriah, here, he went, as well, although he kept quiet about the whole thing. He didn't tell his wife, his son, his servants, or even a single rock or tree what was going on. The story of Abraham is one almost of false bravado - only he knows the truth about his journey. Only he knows how uncertain he is. He declares neither confidence nor concern, but it's written all over his face.
Moses, on the other hand, is quite vocal about his concerns. And not just in the beginning. Throughout his journey down God's path, we repeatedly see him express his hesitations. We repeatedly see him asking for assurance. Called to be the leader of his people, Moses continues to ask for signs of God's favor, not only for himself but in order to prove himself. God gives him unprecedented access to the presence of the Lord Himself, as well as sign after miraculous sign that God is with him. Called to actually lead his people, Moses protests. His limited imagination keeps him from seeing how things could be and locks his eyes on the way things are. He begs God to change His mind. He pleads for there to be some other way. And in the end, he is given a helper, who then becomes the priest of his people. What's interesting is that Moses is called to be the first great leader of the nation of Israel, but he is not counted as among their kings; he is not counted as among their judges; he is not counted as among their priests (the priests trace their lineage back to Aaron, not Moses); he is not counted as among their fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). It has to make you wonder a little bit if it was not the way that Moses' insecurities got the best of him that ends with him being almost an obscure figure in Israel's community history.
Jonah, in contrast to Abraham's false bravado, took on almost an arrogant attitude at God's call on his life to be a prophet. It's not a far stretch at all to think of Jonah being prideful in his position, declaring, I am the man of God. That's right. It's me. I'm the prophet. Yet, called to go to Nineveh, he boards a boat for Tarshish. For those of you not brushed up on your Old Testament geography, Tarshish is in the other direction. It's the opposite way. It's not a wicked city, per se, although it's not a godly one. It's a place rife with opportunity, so why would Jonah go to Nineveh, a place that's barely got a chance?
Noah is another quiet kind of figure. He is humbled, I think, by God's call to be a remnant. His righteousness does not give him reason to boast, like Jonah's prophetic gift did. He doesn't laugh, the way that Abraham did. He doesn't demand that God confirm and re-confirm this calling on his life. He just...goes with it. Called to build a giant boat and gather thousands of animals to himself, he doesn't make a big deal of it. He becomes a public spectacle, but we never see him play into that at all. He keeps his head down and his eyes open, his hands dirty and his heart sober. He does the work that God has set before him, and it truly is a labor of love - for his God, who has called him to it, and for his family, who he takes with him into the storm.
There are so many diverse reactions to the call of God on our lives, both God's call to be and to do. In fact, I don't think there are two characters in all our Scripture who have the same reaction, and I don't think there are two characters in God's developing story who do, either. But I do think we can see some of ourselves in these four.
I think we can see where, in response to God's call to be, it's easy for us to laugh. It's easy for us to demand signs and confirmations. It's easy for us to become prideful and arrogant. It's easy for us to be humbled by it all. And I think we can see where, in response to God's call to do, it's easy for us to develop a false bravado, while scheming our way through. It's easy for us to demand help, to beg for it, even. It's easy for us to board a ship in a completely different direction. It's easy for us to become a public spectacle.
But no matter how it is that we respond to the call of God in our lives, here is what we cannot lose sight of: God is infinitely more faithful than we are. Even in our laughter, our insecurity, our pride, or our humility, God continues to make us the very thing He intends to make us. Abraham became the father; Moses, the leader; Jonah, the prophet; Noah, the remnant. Even in our false bravado, our joint commission, our detour, or our headlines, God guides us to do the things He intends us to do. Abraham made the journey to a new land; Moses led the Hebrews to the Promised Land; Jonah preached a message of repentance that was heard by Nineveh; Noah sailed that little ship to dry land.
So God is up to something. He really is. He's really doing it. And we may have our hesitations, but He doesn't. He is far more confident in us than we are in Him, and whatever He's given us to do, we shall do. Whatever He's created us to be, we shall be.
The only question, then, is how will our stories tell these stories? How will these scenes play out? What will be the testimony of our lives in response to the call of God?