As I’ve stated many times, and unapologetically, my church history is firmly rooted in the Pentecostal movement. I was born into a Pentecostal family, have attended Pentecostal churches my entire life, and am now ordained in a Pentecostal denomination. To be brief: I’ve seen some stuff. For those of you who may not have the same story, I’m not saying mine is better, it’s just different – and in a significant way.
One thing that the Pentecostal movement is steeped in is a sort of “theology of moments”. You likely won’t find that terminology in a book due to that fact that it’s origins are found in the last 45 seconds of this writing. But, despite the lack of vocab credibility, the principle is one that many would affirm. We take our very name and heritage from the Acts 2 story of the Upper Room where the Spirit of God rushed in and caused a group of believers to speak in tongues and act in such a way as to create the impression that they had been doing shots of liquor upstairs instead of praying. This story tells like a flare burns: suddenly, brightly, and then done. Thousands were saved that day and the church was born. Pentecostals look at miracles and tongues and wonders and signs and see the movement of God in flashes and booms – and to be certain, they see them like this because things happened like that in the Bible and throughout church history. If the Pentecostal movement has brought anything to the modern church – and it has brought much more than one thing – it is a sense that at any moment, any thing is completely possible.
With all of this in mind we come to the topic that moved me in this direction: the “call” of God. In a book I’m reading, by a Pentecostal author about the “call” of God, a beautifully balanced perspective was offered and I hoped it would clarify some things as well as encourage anyone who might read this. For all of our overuse of the phrase, “God told me…”, we have almost created a culture of spirituality that is confined and constricted by “the moment”. So many testimonies have been given, that I’ve heard with my own ears, that glorify a single moment, a single voice, a single feeling, or a single call. I believe God does work in moments, but I also believe that He works (probably more often) over periods of time in progressive ways. For every one Damascus Road experience there are twelve people on the “three and a half-year plan” where Jesus doesn’t blind them but opens their eyes slowly.
I don’t believe that someone is any less called by God to salvation or ministry if they haven’t had a lightning bolt moment than someone who is confident that they heard the audible voice of God. How many people have doubted and fretted because God worked differently in them? How many people were gradually brought into the fold and into the ministry? Hasn’t God proven over the course of Biblical and world history that He likes to work in a lot of different ways? God has never approached communicating with His people in a “one size fits all” type of way.
So I offer this short passage from Terry Cross’ book on calling and I encourage you friends, don’t think that you aren’t being called just because there wasn’t a moment of violent conflagration. Even if He’s just working on you more methodically, He’s still working.
…our radical openness to God’s presence does not mean that only “clergy” will receive a call. It also may not mean a voice from heaven will guide every believer. It may not mean God has only one direction for each life and only by performing one particular task will that life be pleasing to God. While such a specific calling may be the case for some, others may experience the leading of God in more progressive stages, opening and closing different doors throughout the avenues of life, so that God’s will becomes more apparent as one walks in the journey…God speaks to people in various ways, but the point is that God speaks.
– Terry Cross, Ph.D., “Answering the Call in the Spirit” p. 15