Summary: Part 10 in Elijah series - what God’s call is (and isn’t), and what we are to do with it.
1 Kings 19:19-21 – Did Anybody Call While I Was Out?
There’s an old legend that tells the story of a maniacal Dutch sea captain who was struggling to round the Cape of Good Hope in the eye of a terrible gale that threatened to sink his ship and all aboard. The sailors warned him to turn around, the passengers pleaded, but the captain, either mad or drunk, refused to change course. Instead, he pressed on, singing loud and obscene songs, before going below to his cabin to drink beer and smoke his pipe. Monstrous waves pummeled the sides of the ship, howling winds bent the masts and tore at the sails, but still the captain held his course, challenging the wrath of God Almighty by swearing a blasphemous oath.
Finally, there was a mutiny on board; the crew and passengers attempted to take control of the ship, but the captain, roused from his drunken stupor, killed the leader of the rebellion and threw him overboard. The moment the body hit the water, the clouds parted, and a shadowy figure materialized on the quarterdeck.
"You’re a very stubborn man," the shadow said, and the captain answered him with a curse word. "I never asked for a peaceful passage," the captain went on. "I never asked for anything. So clear off before I shoot you, too."
But the figure didn’t move. Drawing his pistol, the captain tried to fire, but the gun exploded in his hand. Now the figure spoke again, and told the captain he was cursed.
"As a result of your actions you are condemned to sail the oceans for eternity with a ghostly crew of dead men, bringing death to all who sight your spectral ship, and to never make port or know a moment’s peace," the shadow said. "Furthermore, gall shall be your drink, and red hot iron your meat." The captain, reckless to the last, cried, "Amen to that!"
And so, for centuries from then on, the Flying Dutchman was seen piloting his spectral vessel, its canvas spread, its masts creaking in a fearful wind. Even today, legends persist that this ghostly crew still sail aimlessly across stormy seas.
You know, many roam this earth today with the same aimlessness. No purpose, no driving motive, no destination. Just passing time. Many today live with no sense of direction any more than simply “happy”. Even among Christians. We have a vague understanding of obedience and all that, but we still live with no clear sense of purpose. Yet God has called each one of us. We need to listen to God’s call.
In our Bible passage today, we see the call of God. We see God calling someone to serve Him fully. Let’s read. Now, I understand that this passage is the call of Elisha to leave his farm work to be a prophet of God. Over the years, the idea of being called has applied only to those “in full-time ministry”. Let me tell you, I really object to that thought. I hate the idea that I am in the only one in the ministry in this church right now. I despise the notion that I am the only one called.
Paul urged the Ephesians to “live a life worthy of the calling they had received.” The writer of Hebrews urged his readers “who share in the heavenly calling” to “fix your thoughts on Jesus”. 1 Peter 1 :15 says that the one who has called us, God, is holy, so we should be holy too. Ephesians 4:4 says that we were called to one hope when we were called. The Bible says we were called to freedom, called to glory, called to endurance, called to His wonderful light, called to receive His promised eternal inheritance, called to a holy life, and called to eternal life. British author Os Guiness in his book The Call states that our primary calling as followers of Christ is by Him, to Him, and for Him. Every single one of us has been called to God, that God reached out and spoke to every individual and has drawn us to Himself.
But among Christian circles, there is the idea of a special calling, a calling only a few of us receive, a bigger higher better calling. A calling to the ministry. While it’s true that God’s plans for some include pastoring, or pastor’s wife-ing, or Christian school education, or special assignment in some sort of capacity, those callings are no less or more important than what every Christian has: to love Him and serve Him, in that order. Each one of us has been called.
And it’s in that context that I would like to look at God’s call to Elisha from the words of Elijah. The 1st truth about God’s call is this: God’s call involves all you have – v19. Elisha was working, plowing the field, probably the youngest in the family. God called him to something different. And it involved his whole life. The call was, “Surrender everything to me.” And the call is the same for us. God wants all you have: all your time, all your money (notice I didn’t say the church wanted all your money), all your resources. Simply put, is everything of yours His?