RECEIVING A CALL by Rev’d Jonathan Gale

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Jeremiah 1: 4 – 10 
Acts 9: 1 – 19

Matthew 4: 18 – 25


The telephone rings. I answer it, nod and say ‘yes’ and ‘aha’ etc. Then I look up and say, “I just received a call. Someone focussed on me, rung my number and spoke to me. Just a moment; I’ve been sent somewhere. I won’t be long.”

We keep hearing in Christian circles that we are all called by God. What does that mean? Does he call us personally, by name?

How did Jesus call his first disciples?

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’

Because the call of Jesus to his first disciples is associated with their primary task of preaching the Gospel, we think that is what being called means. Well it does and it doesn’t.

Primarily we are called to be followers of Jesus – disciples. So first and foremost we are called to belong – to Jesus and his family. Our call concerns our identity. Or, to put it another way, our calling is to join someone – not to do something or go somewhere.

But there is more to being called because there is a reason we belong, a reason we are forgiven, a reason we are equipped by the Holy Spirit. In the end we are provided with a purpose for all this, and that is to share Jesus with other people. That is our primary reason for existence. It has to be because saving the world is God’s primary focus.

We have a view that only certain people are called to preach the gospel. This is reinforced by stories like the one told by a pastor who was driving along one day when he was young and he noticed the clouds had formed into three huge letters above him, GPG, which he took to mean “Go preach the Gospel.” Things didn’t work out and a friend suggested it may have meant “Go pump gas.” I wonder what a young Tiger Woods would have read into GPG.

Yes, God does call some people into paid ministry but he calls us all into full time sharing the Good News. All of us without exception.


That doesn’t sit well for many of us. It didn’t sit well for Frodo in The Lord of the Rings who was given the task of destroying the Ring of Power.

[1]“I am not made for perilous quests,” cried Frodo. “I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?

“Such questions cannot be answered,” said Gandalf. “You may be sure it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”

Jeremiah has a tough time accepting his call. 6Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ 7But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.


His excuse is that he is too young. And he is! Eugene Peterson in his book on Jeremiah called Running with the Horses, says, [2] If we look at ourselves and are absolutely honest, we are always inadequate.

He goes on to say we:

  • Are not smart enough
  • Don’t have enough energy
  • Can’t concentrate adequately etc

We always have excuses but as Eugene Peterson again says, It is not our feelings that determine our level and participation in life, nor our experience that qualifies us for what we will do and be; it is what God decides about us.

THAT is why God never accepts excuses.

We are all called and sent because God decides that about us.


I’d like to close with a story I picked up from Digby Wilkinson called the The Potato Digger’s Daughter.


“In the middle of the Russian revolution, when many of the wealthy lords, and princes and kings were being overthrown by the peasants, there was one very wealthy royal family who had a daughter who was a princess.

On the day that the revolution came to their castle, the family took their daughter and told her to run into the woods because they knew that their own doom was certain, and to save her was important for the generations to come.

 This little girl ran into the woods as though her life depended upon it. And as she ran, the light from which she came became darkness as the surrounding forest enclosed her.

Eventually she fell down because she was tired and she slept. When she awoke she found herself in a very unusual bed; it wasn’t a comfortable bed. It was hammock with some hay on it. She realised that the people who had picked her up from the forest were peasants working deep in the woods; and they grew potatoes.

They looked after her because they knew that her family had been harmed and she grew up in her new family. As she grew, she learned to dig potatoes with the rest of them. And as time went on she began to believe that she was really a potato digger.

One day when she was digging potatoes in the field around harvest time, an old stooped woman came out from the trees and walked straight over to her, went to her and said to her “Do you know who you are?” The girl looked up at her – she was now in her late teens – and said “I’m a potato digger, and I’m the daughter of a potato digger.”

The old woman said, “No, that is not who you are. You are the daughter of the king.” And at that moment the old woman walked back into the forest and disappeared.

The girl asked her family again what had happened and the story was recounted. She still went out and dug potatoes day by day because that was her lot, but suddenly everything had changed.

No longer was she a potato digger’s daughter, she was now a child of the king. It meant that she stood just a little bit straighter, she dug with a different enthusiasm, because she understood finally who she was, and what she was. She had been sent to save her lineage first and foremost. She had a greater purpose and a greater task lay ahead.

So this Lent ask yourself who are you? Whoever you are and wherever you have come from, in Christ we are all children of the King. We live differently because we know who we truly are. The story we now tell is a new story and in this Lenten period, we reflect on the knowledge that we aren’t just children of God in word, we are children of God indeed. It is our identity. And that changes the way we see ourselves, and the world in which we live, and helps us to live with a greater sense of faith and hope for all that is yet to come.

 Think about who you are, but think in the light of Christ.

Paul says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4: 13)

We find ourselves with a new sense of light and hope. The old has gone, the new has come.”

In Christ we are both called and sent because our identity establishes us in Christ and that gives us a new purpose, a new mission: sharing Christ with other people, no matter who they are.

May God bless you this Lent.






[1] J.R.R. Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), p. 70

[2] Eugene H Peterson, Running with the Horses (Illinois; IVP Books, 2009) p. 50