21. Will He take me somewhere I don’t want to go or make me follow His Will if I don’t want to?
Yes and no. Yes, He did drag Jonah to Nineveh, but I don’t think He generally sends along “big fishes” to drag us, kicking and screaming, to places we don’t want to go. I believe that His typical way is not “a big fish,” but to pursue, challenge, call, and convict us. He will knock on the doors of our hearts and ask us to go with Him. And when He does call us to something we don’t like, if we will remain in Him, be obedient, and focus on Him and His glory, our feelings will eventually get in line. But He does allow us to rebel and to be hard-hearted, if we choose. And I think it breaks His heart and grieves Him when we do. He wants so much more for us than we want for ourselves.
I do think that He looks for hearts that are sensitive to the Spirit, that are willing to obey, to pray, to see needs, and do something about them. And He will take anyone who wants to be of use to Him and use them for His goals and His glory. I believe that there are many needs that go unmet and many of His plans and desires that don’t get done, because we shake off any responsibility that we might feel with “God will do whatever He wants.” No! I believe that God calls, guides, and convicts, but He leaves it up to man to respond and to get His Will done on earth.
There are several examples in the Bible that show us that God calls, but we have to respond. Exodus 3 tells us about Moses and the burning bush. When Moses saw that the bush wasn’t burning up, he decided to go closer and check it out. Verse 4 says, “When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’“
If God had wanted Moses’ help, why didn’t He just appear in the sky and say, “Hey, Moses, I have a job for you?” But that’s not what He did. He waited to call him until He saw that Moses went to look at the bush. Why? I think it’s because He waits for our response, to see if we will acknowledge Him or not. He doesn’t call to those who are uninterested and just walk on by.
Same thing with Samuel. In 1 Samuel 3, we read how the Lord called out to Samuel three times one night. And three times, Samuel went to see if Eli called him. Eli told Samuel that if it happened again, he should say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:9) And the fourth time that the Lord called to Samuel, he responded as Eli told him to. And then the Lord gave him His message.
I used to wonder why God didn’t just start out saying, “Hey, Samuel! It’s Me, God. I have a message for you.” Why not just say what He wanted to say, instead of making Samuel run all over trying to figure out what was going on? And this is what really convinced me that God calls, but waits to speak until He sees if we are listening to Him or not. He doesn’t force His message on us, but waits until we show our willingness by responding to His call.
Also, in Isaiah 6, we see that Isaiah has a vision where he sees the Lord sitting on His throne, and the angels all around Him. As he’s standing there (after freaking out about his sinful state - “Woe to me! . . . I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”), he overhears the Lord say, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
Isaiah responds with that famous line, “Here I am. Send me!”
Now, since Isaiah was just standing there, eavesdropping on the Heavenly conversation, God could have just said, “Hey, you over there? Come here and make yourself of some use!” But He didn’t. He mentioned a need for someone to “go” and He allowed Isaiah to offer or not.
And I think that this is what He does with us today. He places the calls and needs before us, He knocks on the door of our hearts, but it’s up to us to listen, respond, and open the door. He doesn’t force His way in or His ways on us. How many of us miss our “burning bushes” because we don’t make the time or effort to notice? How many of us don’t respond to Him when He calls? How many of us overhear God’s need for someone to do something for Him, and yet we look down at the ground and pretend we didn’t hear anything? And we wonder where God is and why the earth is in such a mess!