Sometimes, God calls us to do things that seem completely irresponsible. We hear stories of missionaries who, having been called by God to share the good news with a tribe of head-hunters, bought a coffin for themselves and packed all their belongings in it so they could head off (pun intended) to follow this extreme call of God, fully expecting never to return.
God doesn’t call all of us to take such extreme measures, but the thing is, he could call any of us to do so. Often when we hear these sorts of stories we consider them outwardly; we are impressed by the faith of these extremists, but we are not actually open to hearing a similar call from God ourselves.
This is, of course, not the way it should be. All throughout the Bible God calls ordinary people to take extraordinary steps in His name. We need to be open to it if He calls us to do the same.
A foolish call
I am reading through the Old Testament at the moment in my daily bible reading, and was struck once again by the story of Abram’s call in Genesis 12.
Here we have a man called to do something that, corporeally, seems totally foolish: to go from his country and his kindred, and his father’s house, and go to a promised-but-not-yet-realised land that the Lord will show him. In antiquity, your kindred and your father’s house (extended family and immediate family) were your security. God was asking Abram to leave all this behind to follow His will.
Now, God did promise to bless Abram (verses 2-3), but otherwise, it’s all very restrained and without fanfare. This is what strikes me the most; God says “move countries” and Abram says, “Ok.” I think it hits me so hard because I can’t guarantee that I would respond with such immediate and faithful obedience.
It’s not all about going in obedience either, sometimes it is about giving in obedience. Most of us will know the story of the widow’s offering, found in Mark chapter 12 verses 41 to 44.
Jesus sees rich people putting large sums of money into the temple offering, followed by a woman who puts in two copper coins, worth only a few cents. He then explains to His disciples that she has given more, for she gave everything she had to live on, whereas the rich had simply given out of their wealth.
In my role representing an aid organisation, I have seen some truly remarkable acts of generosity.
A man on a disability pension with barely enough to live on gave a wad of bills worth more than a week’s wages. A single mum struggling to make ends meet felt compelled by God to take up another sponsor child, despite the ridiculousness of that action given her financial situation. A young man quietly and without fanfare gave more than a month's worth of wages, seemingly, out of nowhere. Like Abram, these people were called and said, “ok.”
As someone whose ministry involves asking people to give financially, I want to again balance the scales and note that it's not just going and giving in obedience that are important to God. Sometimes God asks us simply to behave in irrational ways so as to achieve His purposes in our lives and bring more people to know and love him.
In Joshua 6, I am almost sure that Joshua would have found God’s command completely irrational. God tells Joshua to march around the city of Jericho for 7 days, do so blowing trumpets the seventh day, and then shout at the wall, and it will fall down. The more you try to visualise this story, the more inane it appears!
Yet, this is what God asked of Joshua and his army, and this is what they did. And sure enough, the wall fell down.
God’s amazing faithfulness.
Joshua was asked to behave irrationally, but what God promised, He did. In the same way, I have never heard a story of preposterous giving that didn’t end in that person having all that they needed because of God’s amazing faithfulness. Again, Abram indeed came into the land, and saw God’s promises begin to be fulfilled.
Because the truth is, God will call each of us to behave in a way that, to all our human understanding, will make us uncomfortable and maybe make us look irrational. Yet it is in these times that God can and will really show Himself in a fantastic way. I like what Francis Chan says on the subject:
“God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.”
Sometimes God calls us to do things that seem completely irresponsible, to take extraordinary steps in His name. The obvious reminder in all of this is that at the times when God does so, our unfettered response should be ‘Ok.’ Because it is in these times that God will reveal Himself to us, and more importantly, to those around us, as the amazing and faithful God that He is.
Brent Van Mourik is the Queensland Church Relationship Manager for Baptist World Aid Australia and is a registered pastor with the Baptist Union of Queensland. He completed a Bachelor of Theology with honours in New Testament through Malyon College in Brisbane, where he now lives with his wife, Jane, and his young son, Joshua. In his down time, he enjoys making and drinking good coffee, and developing his theology of disappointment, whilst putting into practice Ephesians chapter 4 verse 26 (“In your anger do not sin”) on the golf course.
Brent Van Mourik’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/brent-van-mourik.html