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Call Waiting: God's Invitation to Youth

82 pages
Judson Press
ISBN: 0817014810

Related Links

Find Peace with God Youth Section


An Invitation from God, Part Two

By Larry L. McSwain and Kay Wilson Shurden – In part one of this article, the authors explained what is meant by a "call." In part two, they examine how you distinguish God's voice to determine what He is calling you to do.

From God

Call is an invitation. The invitation comes from God.

Let’s visit Moses in the desert again to learn more about call. He is standing on a quiet hillside with one task to focus on—caring for the flock. The only sounds in the air are the bleating of the sheep and the call of birds. Perhaps a snake slithers
through the rocks or grasshoppers leap from bush to bush, but
otherwise everything is still. A burning bush would be pretty hard to miss.

Call begins with an awareness of God.

How does Moses’ experience compare to your daily life?
Your generation is one of the busiest, most programmed, and overextended ever. It has been estimated that the modern teenager, whose days are filled with school, homework, extracurricular activities, Internet surfing, email, text messages, radio, television, books, newspapers, and magazines, receives more incoming information in a single month than a person in Bible times received throughout his or her entire life. Thanks to flip phones, MTV, BET, VH1, honking horns, woofers, advance-placement classes, soccer, math club, part-time jobs, and church, the life of an adolescent today is seldom still and rarely quiet. In the midst of a busy and noisy life, deliberate action is necessary to find time and space to become aware of God’s presence.

For centuries spiritual people have practiced meditation to draw themselves away from the world and become open to God. Meditation can be as simple as a quiet walk, focusing on your breathing, praying in a quiet place, or listening to relaxing instrumental music. The meditation outlined below is based on the familiar children’s song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” so it is easy to remember. It can be done seated or lying down and takes only a few minutes. Why not try it out before you read on?

1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable spot and take two slow,
deep breaths.

2. Continue breathing deeply and picture the golden light of God’s love moving with relaxing warmth from the top of your head. . .slowly down to your shoulders. . .to your knees. . .and to the tips of your toes.

3. Take two slow breaths, and with each breath, imagine the light glowing stronger and flowing through the muscles of your neck, arms, tummy, legs, and back.

4. See the light spreading relaxing warmth to your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose as you continue to take slow, deep breaths.

5. Inhale slowly and think to yourself, “God loves me.”

6. Continue with slow, deep breaths, mentally repeating, “God loves me,” for as long you want to. (See Note 1)

The image of the burning bush in the Moses story tells us
something about God. A bush that is ablaze but does not burn up is something completely outside of human understanding. The term holy comes from the Hebrew word for “other.” To say that God is holy is to say that God is completely other than us, that the reality of God cannot be contained within human ideas. Awareness of God helps us to remember that we are not in charge. In God’s presence we can be led in ways beyond the limits of human expectation and understanding, which is a
handy thing when the future is unknown and uncertain.

During their encounter in the desert, God told Moses to take off his shoes because he stood on holy ground. Holy space is wherever people and God connect. It is in these connections, these holy spaces, that our awareness of God can move us toward our callings. Being aware of God is a beginning point, but it is not enough.

Sometimes people are aware of God and even have a relationship with God but still get off track. One of Christianity’s earliest heroes was a man who headed down the wrong road but found out that even the wrong road could become holy space.

The Call of the Apostle Paul: Acts 7:58; 9:1-31
Like many Jews in his time, Saul had a Hebrew name and a Greek version of his name—Paul—that was used in the larger Roman society. Saul was a well-educated, devout leader in the Jewish community and also a Roman citizen, so he had quite a bit of power and freedom. The first Christians were Jewish, and they practiced their faith in Jesus in synagogues and house churches in Jerusalem and in the rural Jewish communities that Jesus had visited. Saul eventually became known as the apostle
Paul, and he was responsible for spreading Christianity and establishing Gentile (non-Jewish) churches throughout the Roman Empire. But this apostle started out with a very different mission.

Saul had a relationship with God and, according to his Jewish faith, believed that blasphemy was a capital offense. He was convinced that the people of “the Way,” as the first Christians were known, were committing blasphemy by preaching about Jesus. After Saul witnessed the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian church, Saul was sure he had found his mission: He was to travel to the rural communities, arrest followers of Jesus, and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial. So with letters of authority from the high priest in his pocket, Saul headed off for the synagogues of Damascus.

Along the road, Saul was knocked flat by a bright light, and he heard a voice ask, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul replied.

“I am Jesus who you are persecuting,” was Jesus’ response.

Paul, still blinded by the light, was led to the home of a follower of Jesus. There he sat alone, without eating or drinking. After three days, Ananias was sent by God to heal Saul’s eyes. Ananias also baptized Saul, and the two men shared a meal. Saul stayed with the followers of Jesus for a few days, took some time to make sense of his new experience, then began his work as Paul, apostle of Jesus and preacher to the Gentiles.

Discovering your call is grounded in a lifetime of getting to know God.

Saul had spent his life in relationship with God, but he found out there was so much more of God to know. Just like any relationship, a relationship with God takes time and effort. Have you ever had a conversation like the following?

“Hey, do you know Troy Brown?”

“Well, I know who he is, but I don’t know him.”

Knowing someone is more than knowing who he or she is. Knowing someone involves an ongoing relationship. Let’s look at four ways people have been getting to know God since the beginning of time.

CELEBRATION. Have you ever heard someone say, “I feel so bad that I skipped church,” or “Well, at least I go to church!” Somehow “worship” has become “going to church,” which sounds kind of like doing a duty. If you’ve ever heard news reporters talk about the pope leading Mass, you may have noticed them say, “The pontiff celebrated mass.” Celebrated! Worship is indeed celebration. When the Hebrew people worshiped,
they sang, danced, told stories, and participated in rituals
that reminded them of what God had done. The early
Christians partied in joyful celebration, singing songs, telling the stories of Jesus, and eating meals together. True worship reminds us of God’s love and draws us deeper into relationship with God.

PRAYER. With all the books on prayer and workshops for prayer, it could seem like prayer is complicated. But it isn’t. Prayer is just conversation with God. There are no magic formulas. No things we must say. No things we can’t say. Prayer can take place when we are seated in a church, walking in the woods, or lying on our beds. Prayer can be private or shared with others. It can be silent or expressed in words, music, or even movement.
Prayer begins with knowing that God accepts us exactly as we are and finds joy in spending time with us. In prayer we can talk to God about anything. And in prayer we can listen to God. In the quiet, still moments of prayer, God can break through the many voices that fill our thoughts and speak to us with the voice that is heard in our hearts.

STUDY. The main written source for getting to know God is the Bible. The stories the Hebrew people told at their celebrations were eventually written down and became part of what we call the Old Testament. The stories of Jesus, along with stories and letters from the earliest churches, became our New Testament. Any call will be in keeping with who God is as revealed in the Bible. The Bible is a storybook that tells about God’s dream for
the world. The stories also tell about people, who sometimes were and sometimes were not in tune with God’s dream. So getting to know God through the Bible means exploring, sometimes using tools, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias; asking questions; and learning from others. It also means using more
than our minds. If we let the stories touch us and connect with our hopes, joys, fears, and disappointments, the Bible can draw us closer to God and can even change us.

ACTION. Think about a close friend. How did you get to be friends? Friends often get to know each other by doing things together. This is true in a relationship with God, too. It was when Saul was doing what he thought was the business of God that God redirected him. Then, when he came to understand that Jesus and God are one, he took action. He met with followers of Jesus. He was baptized. He traveled around and preached the gospel. Through these activities, Paul came to know God more and more. Actions that help us grow in relationship with God include participating in rituals, such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper; serving in the church; and reaching out to help

For Reflection

Call begins with an awareness of God.

Discovering your call is grounded in a lifetime of getting to know God.


Related Links:
Read part one of this article, An Invitation from God.

Find peace with God.

Want more articles for teens? Visit Youth

1. “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes Meditation,” © 2001 Cassandra Williams, ( used and adapted by permission.


Excerpted from Call Waiting: God's Invitation to Youth by Larry L. McSwain and Kay Wilson Shurden, Copyright © 2005, published by Judson Press. Used by permission.


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