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What Makes Us Believe God Is Calling Us?

Different kinds of experience can provoke a sense of one’s calling. For some, it is the wise counsel of a coach or a parent. For others, it is a dramatic encounter with God’s power and grace, one that interrupts one’s plans and commands attention. Sometimes we sense God’s call when we are brought low, when we realize we are needy and humbled by the trials of life. When we are broken and humbled, acts of kindness convey God’s care in ways that spark and refresh our sense of calling.

One of these times in my life was when I interviewed for my first job at Calvin University. After 11 years of college, seminary, and graduate school, my wife and I were extremely poor. We had two children under 3 with a third on the way. I drove from Chicago to Grand Rapids for my job interview in our beat-up car. I had not realized that rust holes in the trunk and perforations in the exhaust system were sucking fumes into the car. I arrived in Grand Rapids dizzy and reeking of exhaust.

My friend took me out to lunch. I told him that I needed a new exhaust system but had no money for it. He quickly said, “My wife and I have plenty of money. We’ll give you some.” The next day he gave me a wad of $20 bills. I took the car to a muffler shop that squeezed me into their schedule, and in one day I had a new, safe exhaust system.

This spontaneous act of kindness caused me to thank my friend and thank God. We are not alone; we can rely on each other for support. Through this act of kindness, my sense of call to serve God was refreshed. It reminded me of how God works through the support of the Christian community, and it made me eager to join the mission of Calvin University as one of its professors of religion.

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