Hearing and responding to Gods call can, I think, be one of the hardest things to do as a Christian. How do you know if you’re hearing Gods call, what happens if you’re asking God for direction and don’t feel like He’s giving you any feed back, what about if others think you might be getting called in a certain direction but actually you have no passion for anything they are talking about.
During the past 18 months I’ve been on a journey towards starting the process of selection for ordination and have gone through all of the above feelings. It started around two years ago when a couple of people said things along the lines of ‘ooohhh you’d make a lovely vicar!’ or ‘oooohhh have you ever thought of going into ministry?!’ to which I replied ‘don’t be ridiculous, what an absolutely absurd notion!’ Over the next few months the comments kept popping up from various people who didn’t necessarily have any connection to each other. According to the Church of England this is an indicator. If different people from different areas of your life start saying the same thing it may be a complete coincidence; but it could also be God giving you a gentle nudge in the right direction.
I decided I had better take notice of the nudge and asked my vicar if I could shadow him for a couple of months to see what being a vicar was really like. It went well, not only did I like the work I was doing with my vicar but people responded positively to what I was doing and I found myself softening towards the idea of priesthood. I went from ‘what an absurd notion!’ to ‘well it’s unlikely but I’m giving it some thought; I’m sure I’ll stop feeling this way soon though!’ Once again this is another indicator. If the Holy Spirit starts to soften you toward something you once thought impossible it’s time to sit up and take notice. I went from wanting nothing more than to act and simply wanting to perform. Knowing I wasn’t the best of the best but clinging to the fact that it was what I enjoyed more than anything. I changed to giving that up and turning down an acting job so that I could pursue Forge and learn and develop my leadership skills just in case this was definitely the route I was headed towards. There was a time when being offered an acting job would have meant I turned down any other job; but the Holy Spirit had convicted me and changed me so that I realised there was a bigger plan than my dream to get to the West End.
The third and final part of my journey to responding to what God told me to do came in the midst of all of these other ‘goings on’. The criteria for selection to ordination says that a candidate must have a clear sense of calling. My clearest call came during a ‘Momentum’ summer conference where I felt God say that he wanted to use me for His Kingdom. I instinctively felt that this was more than just how He wants to use every one of us, that there was something more to this call. Fortunately I wrote this experience down and when I came back to it a few months later it suddenly became clear what God had meant. Sometimes God won’t obviously give us a poke and say this is my plan for you. But I believe that if we’re attentive to those around us and to the works of The Spirit within us then we can work out what God wants for us and hopefully respond and follow His lead. If however we get it wrong and actually God isn’t leading us down the particular path we thought, it’s fine because we can be fairly certain that God will close that door pretty firmly whilst opening another one for us to go through. I think the most important thing is to be bold, push the door and if it opens trust God enough to walk through and see what He’s got in store for you.
Michael is a 'Forgee' and is on the Student team at St Michael le Belfrey. He has spent the past two years working for Riding Lights Theatre Company!