When God Calls, You Go

By Joe Caruso Stories

How do we respond to the call of God? We’ve all experienced it, a sudden thought or conviction that we feel compelled to act on. We can’t dismiss this call to action, it’s something we know deep down that we must respond to. Far too often though, God’s call goes unanswered. It’s not necessarily that we say no, but as time passes we find ourselves in the same place, leaving God’s call unaddressed.

In this post, let’s explore four stories where God called individuals to follow him. The purpose of the call in these cases is somewhat irrelevant. Instead of focusing on what God is calling us to, let’s focus on how we respond to God’s call. We’ll see what we can learn from others who have responded to God in the past.

Also, let’s assume that the call is genuine. We all know too well, the importance of knowing for certain, that what we are responding to is indeed God’s voice. At some point, I hope to write about how to hear God’s voice, but for now, let’s focus our attention on how we respond.

We’ll look at four stories, or case studies, one from the Old Testament and three from the New Testament. Hopefully, these stories will help us identify how we should or shouldn’t respond to God in our own lives. Let’s get started…

1. When God Calls, You Don’t Look Back: Genesis 19:15-26

This strange Old Testament story takes place on the eve of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God sent two angels to destroy the cities for their sins. Before destroying the cities, the angels told Lot that God was going to spare them and he should take his family and leave the city at once.

With some coaxing, Lot agreed and he fled Sodom that evening with his wife and daughters, just before the cities were destroyed. As they fled for safety, however, Lot’s wife turned back to look at the destruction of the city where she once lived and immediately turned into a pillar of salt.

This is a strange story indeed, but one in which deep truths can be gained. Why did Lot’s wife turn back to look at the city and why was she turned into a pillar of salt?

It appears that Lot’s wife was possibly looking back, regretting the loss of what she had. Sodom and Gomorrah despite its wickedness held a special place in her heart.

I think the lesson to be learned here is that when we’re called to move forward we have to leave our old ways behind. If we want to move to a new place, we can’t take our old baggage with us. Lot’s wife seems to be having remorse over the loss of what she was giving up.

This brings us to the next question, why did she turn into a pillar of salt? I think we’ve all been in this situation before. We’re at a crossroads. We want to move forward. We know that we must move forward, but there’s a part of us that is unsure. There’s a part of us that wants to stay, even though we know moving forward is better. What happens next? We get stuck. We neither move forward nor backwards. We stay in a state of limbo, unable to move.

This was the fate of Lot’s wife. When you look back, you run the risk of getting stuck and missing out on the plan God has for you. When God calls, you don’t look back.

2. When God Calls You Don’t Put it Off: Luke 9:59-62

For our next case study, we find Jesus calling others to follow him. Like the story of Lot’s wife, these individuals seemed willing to go but still their response did not pass the test for following the call of God.

After being invited to follow Jesus, one person asks if he can first go bury his father who has passed away. Another asks if he can go say goodbye to his family. Both requests seem to be reasonable, however, Jesus seems to be overly harsh with them, rebuking them for their poor priorities. Again, it seems like this story is pointing to a deeper truth than burying a family member or saying goodbye.

Like the story of Lot’s wife, these men are struggling with the ability to move forward. But unlike Lot’s wife, instead of looking back, they seem to be putting it off.

I changed my career path at the age of 40. I went from being a carpenter to a high school teacher. It was something I felt I was being called to do. My family and I sacrificed a lot that year to make this dream a reality. Instead of working, I attend Teachers College. I was back in a classroom studying and writing tests to earn my teaching certificate.

Upon completion, I started applying for teaching jobs. I still remember the phone call I got on a Friday afternoon. It was a principal, asking if I would like a teaching position at her school. This is what I sacrificed and worked so hard for all year long. So, what was my response to the principal?

I answered, “Can I have the weekend to think about it?” I couldn’t believe what came out of my mouth. Why did I say that?

In light of being on the brink of a life-changing decision, I put off the future to focus on my present situation. I choose to do something in the moment, instead of accepting the call to move forward.

The principal, somewhat confused, graciously gave me the weekend to think it over. However, ten minutes after we hung up, and with a little coaxing from my wife, I called her back to accept the job.

There’s always a reason to put off the call of God. There are always enough reasons in fact to keep us where we are and miss what God has for us. When God calls, you don’t put it off.

3. When God Calls, You Don’t Weigh the Cost: Mark 10:17-22

Our third case study is the story of a rich young ruler. In this story, a young man comes to Jesus and asks him a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus goes on to list several commandments that the young man must follow. After hearing the list, the young man proudly tells Jesus that he has kept these commands his whole life.

Jesus then added one more requirement, “go and sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.” After hearing this, the man, looking down walked away in sadness. He was unwilling to give up everything he had to follow Jesus.

This, on the surface, is another seemingly unreasonable requirement. Why was this man expected to give up all his possessions to follow Jesus?

This story is not about money or about having to give up everything we love. This story is about putting Jesus first and making everything else secondary. If the rich young ruler truly wanted to follow Jesus, he would have to be willing to put Jesus first above all else.

By weighing the cost, the rich young ruler was actually debating who’s way was better, God’s way or his way. He wasn’t prepared to put his full trust in Jesus alone.

It’s crazy to think that any of us could rationalize how our way could be better than God’s way. The irony here is that God promises that when we put him first, he will supply all of our needs and give us our heart’s desires. By weighing the cost, we put into question whether this is possible. When God calls, you don’t weigh the cost.

4. When God Calls, You Go: Matthew 4:18-22

Our final case study will focus on Jesus, as he called his first disciples to follow him. In these few short passages, we see Jesus recruiting Simon (later called Peter), Andrew, James and John.

All four men were working at their daily duties as fishermen. When Jesus walked by and called the men to follow him, the bible says that they immediately left what they were doing to follow him.

It’s hard to imagine being in that position, and I’m sure that the disciples had no idea of the adventure they were soon to embark on. I’m sure if they decided to look back, put it off or weigh the cost, they would have missed their opportunity. Jesus would have continued on his quest to call those who were willing to go.

The reality is, that there will always be a cost to following Jesus. But there will also be a cost to NOT following Jesus. The choice is ours to make. Jesus doesn’t force us to follow him, it’s an open invitation. We can look back, put it off or weigh the cost, but we do so at the risk of missing out.

By choosing to go, the disciples experienced an adventure they never could have imagined. They got to walk with Jesus, learn from him, partner with the King of Kings, and participate in the great commission to change the world. All because they chose to follow him.

The amazing thing is, that Jesus is still calling today! We too, can have a life-transforming relationship with him. As long as we accept the call. Let’s not be like others we read about who missed the call of God. Let’s be like the disciples and say yes to Jesus’ call. When God calls, you go!

Leave a Reply