Calling or ambition?
Some years ago we toured Eastern Turkey. It was one of the hardest tours I’ve ever been on. In the van on the way the organiser told us about radical Islamists in the area beating women for wearing the wrong clothes. I wondered how our show might go down there. We arrived in one town to play an outdoor concert and found a hole in the ground in the place where the stage was supposed to be.
The organiser explained we had to build the stage. Next thing I knew I was kneeling in the mud holding up a series of flimsy small platforms while other band members tried to clamp them together. During the set-up we had constant power cuts and we were told the secret police were watching us. By the time we were ready to play I was exhausted. Kneeling under the stage I thought “why are we doing this? Is it worth all the work?” Hundreds of people attended that concert and responded to the gospel message, in a city without a single church. By the end of the evening I had no doubt that we were doing exactly what we were meant to. I felt capable of being there, and more, driven by a deep sense of calling.
“It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what he requires. Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide. You may be more prosperous and successful from the world’s perspective, and will have more leisure time, if you never acknowledge the call of God. But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will. You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.” (My utmost for His highest, Oswald Chambers)
I believe Jesus has a commission for anyone who asks, “What do you want me to do?” So the question isn’t “am I called?”, but “what am I called to do?”. The problem is that often we’re so busy doing good things or following our ambitions that we don’t really ask him what he would have us do.
When God calls us, and we become aware of that, his calling is overwhelmingly powerful and consuming. It is something that goes beyond ourselves and is out of our control. You just keep taking steps of obedience, often without really knowing what you’re doing. Then you look back and realise what God has been doing and you are amazed at his power.
When God calls us, and we surrender to that calling, we do anything for him. We work hard, give our best, live to a higher standard and pour ourselves out, without even thinking of it. It’s not out of legalism or pressure, it just comes naturally to a soul completely surrendered to the King.
Paul was called to the Gentiles. He poured out his life for them and did it with joy. He compared his calling to an athlete in training and a race that he runs to win. He gives everything he has to fulfil his calling:
“Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” (Philippians 2:17)
To reach this global generation we need a new mission movement driven by men and women commissioned by the King, ready to give all and do anything to fulfil their calling. Bands and artists focused on their own ambitions will not change the world. This will require complete focus and surrender, a willingness to do anything and go anywhere. We need bands touring to the most unlikely places, artists willing to go without food or sleep to share the message, missionaries willing to risk their lives to bring Jesus to a broken world.