“And she vowed a vow and said, ‘Oh Lord of hosts,
If you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and
remember me and not forget your servant, but
will give to your servant a son, then I will give him
to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor
shall touch his head.’”
1 Samuel 1:11
I grew up Catholic. One of the things that absolutely terrified me was the notion of being “called” into priesthood. My fear was probably a combination of several factors. My father always bashed the idea of faith. He’d say stuff like, “God is in the (G.D.) woods. I don’t need to go to church to be with him.” Even so, my father never showed God any reverence, so I learned that church was ridiculous. Even so, my heart didn’t grow hard until my teenage years. I was terrified before then.
Perhaps it was the priests themselves that turned me off. I attended a very small church, so we had lots of priests come and go as they took turns covering multiple congregations. They were creepy. There was one that was OK, and I had wished he would stay. That didn’t happen. One thing they all talked about was the “calling” into priesthood. They had all spoke of obeying Jesus’ command to follow him immediately and without question – just as the twelve disciples did.
Well, I didn’t want to be a priest. Not even one sliver of me wanted that. I still shudder at the thought of it. Besides the creepy factor, I had the very real sense that none of them, except the one, wanted to actually be a priest. Something about them led me to believe that they weren’t being square with me and even resented their occupation. Then, I learned there was the practice in my mother’s time that large families would dedicate one male child to the priesthood and one female to become a nun! How horrifying would that be!
So, I would hide from God. I didn’t want to hear his voice in this manner. I didn’t want to disobey him; I simply didn’t want to hear that command. After all, it would be a command for who would resist God? It was awful. I would think I may have heard it, then I would feel guilty for ignoring it. Perhaps it wasn’t his voice, after all? But maybe it was? Ugh!
Little did I know or discover until many years later that God doesn’t do things this way. True, God sent Jonah on a mission he didn’t want to do, but I think that was different. It seems to me that Jonah was a prophet first. Nineveh was simply the assignment he rejected. Jonah knew God before that. No, God doesn’t assign a “career” without first changing the person to desire the job. Now, please understand that my writing this blog would have never happened unless God was at work in my life. First, he saved me against my will. Yes, I’m certain of that. I wanted to stop drinking when I came to him. Instead, he did far more than that. He completely re-wired me. This blog is the result of his initial work in my life.
This seems to me to be a principle for all of us. God may ask us to do things we never imagined, or wanted, to do. Somehow, he changes our perspective so that what we once shunned we now embrace.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Time and experience have proven to me that God changes what I want. He replaces many of my desires with new ones that line up with his calling. You’ve probably heard the saying, “If God calls you to Africa, he will put Africa in your heart.” When the time then comes, you will allow nothing to stand in your way.
It isn’t just the Catholics in my hometown that got this wrong. It seems to me there are plenty of pastors who weren’t truly called as well. There are plenty of us in secular occupations that we weren’t wired for. We go to jobs, day after day and year after year, hating all of it simply because we are doing something God never intended for us to do. What a tragedy! We have to wonder why someone would do that? What is it that keeps them in a job they hate and from a job that they were meant to do? You tell me.
As for Samuel, it seemed to have worked out. Thank goodness for that because he was a great man. “And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:20) Even so, I don’t recommend doing what Samuel’s mother did. I think it would be better to let God work things out rather than make a vow for someone else.
Father, thank you for giving me the desires of my heart. I thought I was wise, but I was a fool. You were right, and I was wrong. Thank you for your mercy. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers