How Will You Respond?

By: William D. Shiell

During times of change, God awakens slumbering people to respond to his call on their lives. After 9/11, I heard three general responses: despair over the condition of our world, anger at our enemies, or a desire to do something about the problem. Many young people at the time enlisted to serve in the military but others awakened to ministry. They responded to the darkness of evil by listening for God’s voice and saying yes.

This kind of calling in difficult times is not without precedent. Samuel said, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” when dreams were rare in Israel; and the priesthood was corrupt. His mother Hannah entrusted the young boy to Eli even though she knew the dangerous conditions of her world. During the awful reign of King Herod, Mary said, “Here I am, a servant of the Lord.”

When God calls, often times it’s in the midst of other voices screaming for us to think otherwise. They don’t challenge our calling; they distract us with fear, hate, and anger. They burden us with disdain for others and cause us to feel the world is collapsing around us. A few months ago, I counseled a father who was angry about his job, the country, and the world in general. His family had dropped out of church and had started to “shop around” because the church they once attended had strayed from biblical teaching. At the same time, his son (unbeknownst to his father) was also contemplating a calling to ministry. In the midst of gloom and frustration, the son was sensing God’s nudge.

What do we need to guide us during times of change? A listening ear and a someone to guide us. Samuel could hear God’s voice but didn’t know that it was God speaking. He needed an Eli to help explain, interpret, and guide him through the decisions. Eli provided the information to go along with Samuel’s intuition. Mary was willing to be God’s vessel and turned to Elizabeth to share her good news. They became a small community for one another through miraculous change.

We live in difficult, complex times; but is it possible that God is calling you through the noise? Northern Seminary is here to help nurture and interpret that call in your life. Our faculty, staff, and students will gather on April 5 for an Open House. We’ll give you a taste of Northern as well as show you why you need more than just a listening ear to follow God’s direction. Register by March 31. All of us need a theological foundation and a personal community to accompany the heartfelt desire to please God. And who knows? You just might be the next person to say, “Here I am, a servant of the Lord.”


March 17, 2016

William D. Shiell

President, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching

ABOUT William

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