6 Ways to Be Certain of the “Call”

by Rachel Pieh Jones on May 4, 2015

There is much debate and discussion around The Call. Mysterious, spiritual, dreamy. Everyone else’s Call story is better. The Call is supposed to come in a flash and be so powerful that it under girds every decision and emotion and experience for the rest of your life, no questions asked, no doubts ever encountered.

It can be quite daunting to determine whether or not you have received this Call. Here is your foolproof guide. You will never doubt again (channeling my inner Princess Bride here).

6 Ways to Be Certain of The Call

Disobey. If you think you hear God telling you to do something, do the opposite. If things go just fine, you heard wrong. If you are swallowed by a gigantic fish, you heard right. Once you are vomited up on shore, obey. Grumblingly but with certainty. (see Jonah 1-4)

Skin a sheep. Better yet, skin two. The first night put the skin on the ground. Don’t bother explaining anything to the neighbors until they complain of the stench and the feral cats swarming. If the skin is wet in the morning but the ground dry, you’ve been called. Still you doubt? Do it again. This time if all around, the ground is wet but the skin is dry, you’ve been called. To pacify the neighbor, considering delivering a feast of roasted meat and rice cooked in the water wrung out from the damp skin yesterday. (Judges 6:36-40)

Listen to your as*, ahem, your donkey. Shall we say car? In any case, if you are going in a certain direction and your mode of transportation stops abruptly and refuses to go forward, even if you whip it, pay attention. If said mode of transportation begins to speak to you, again, pay attention. Respond accordingly. This is the call. (Numbers 22:21-41)

Hide among the suitcases. You’re at the airport, bags are packed, passports and visas at the ready, goodbyes have been said. The family is ready to go. But you still aren’t quite positive God is telling you to go. Quick. Hide. Crawl inside one of those black Action Packers, don’t worry about the things inside, the books and Legos. Dump them out. Or, simply lay among the duffel bags and pray no one notices. If someone comes and finds you there and shouts to your family and the airline employees, “Do you see the one God has chosen?” Then, yes indeed, you have been called and can move forward with confidence. (1 Samuel 10:20-24)

Ask for clarification. Then throw a stick on the ground. If it turns into a snake, called. Pick up the snake. If it doesn’t bite you and if it turns back into a stick, called. Put your hand inside your shirt. If it is diseased when you pull it out, called. Put it back inside. If it is not diseased when you pull it out, called. If the snake bites you or if your arm remains diseased, go to the hospital. (Exodus 4:1-17)

Dreams, burns, and discouragement. If you have a dream in which an angel burns your lips with coal and you hear discouraging words along the lines of, “Go. Talk to people. They won’t understand you. They won’t accept your message. They will have hard hearts, dull ears, and closed eyes and it will be like this for years and years and years. But yeah, go anyway,” consider this your call. Enjoy. (Isaiah 6)

(Or, you could pray. Seek wise counsel. Consider your skills, personality, interests, passions. Look at the world and consider needs. Read the Word. Take a risk. Be a little uncertain. Be convinced of the sovereignty of God. But who has time for all that?!)

Thoughts on deciphering this mysterious Call thing?

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About Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel was raised in the Christian west and said, ‘you betcha’ and ate Jell-O salads, she now lives in the Muslim east, says ‘insha Allah,’ and eats samosas. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Family Fun, Running Times, and more, and she blogs for Brain Child and Babble.
  • Donna

    Oh what a chuckle this brought. We were never called to a people or a place. We simply knew that overseas work was the next thing God asked of us. We determined to do what He told us until He told us to do something different. Leaders gently chastised us. Coworkers counseled us. Everyone prayed for us. We doubted, questioned God, begged for a calling that would measure up in our missionary fishbowl. Back in the U.S. now, three continents and 6 years later, I am certain of my call. My call is to OBEDIENCE, and my work is to do the will of the One who sends me. It is He who directs my path and I will trust Him DAILY for instruction. My passport is ready.

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Right on, Donna. The call is to obedience. Amen.

  • Shannon

    Haha! Ah thanks, Rachel! Love it! Maybe Part 2 could include angelic visitations, “blinding” light, etc.?!?!

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Yes! Exactly.

  • This is so great, Rachel. “Be a little uncertain.” Yes! If we could all admit that part to each other instead of trying to prove our “call.”

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Thanks Danielle – no need to prove, just to be faithful and take a step.

  • Emily Daniell

    Reading Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung right now… says exactly the same thing. Good stuff.

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Will have to look that up, thanks for the suggestion.

  • Allen

    Rachel, I am a Global ministries Pastor. One of our workers in the ME forwarded me the link to your post, clearly she knew how much I would enjoy the read, and I did! Very well done, in fact I would like to use it as an appendage to a paper I recently wrote, “The Missionary Call, A Misnomer.” May I do so while citing your site? I see the post referencing DeYoung’s book which is very good. I also highly recommend Garry Friesen’s classic work, Decision Making and the Will of God. Blessings to you, I will be checking out more of your writings and recommending to others.

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Sure, that sounds great Allen. Please just be sure to link back to this site as the original.

      • Allen

        Rachel, Thank you, I will. I just spent most of an hour checking out the site. We have 20 families on the field now from our congregation, plus others that we support. I am going to recommend this site for encouragement, information, wisdom, and incredible humor. Thank you again!

        • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

          So glad you found the site, I have to say (in my 100% biased opinion) that this is one fo the best communities on the internet!

  • Malana Ganz

    Oh i so needed this today…many many years ago i was challenged prophetically to have a vision, purpose and call, and to live life fully. But my vision was always to be a great wife and mother. Not exactly a missionary call, but an intense one. We raised our six kids and my vision was fulfilled. Then, at retirement age, my husband had a dream of Jesus standing over a map of Panama (where we had missionary friends who needed help). Jesus was saying, I want you to teach and preach in Panama. We got lots of counsel, prayed, talked to our kids….and now have been here for two years.

    Just this morning I was bemoaning my lack of selfless service to the people here, my lack of purpose….how even on the mission field I could be unmotivated and selfish. Do I really belong here? All I do is laundry and cooking and some interaction with our community. My husband is the one with the call, not me. I am just called to be his wife. So your humorous take on calling was a breath of fresh air to me this morning. Thank you!

    Isaiah 49:4 and 1 Co 15:58b are my go-to scriptures for all who feel that their lives are full of useless trivia, whether it be diaper changing or endless laundry. This is from the NLT:

    Isaiah 49:4 But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for
    nothing and to no purpose.

    1 Co 15:58b You know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

    Thanks again, Rachel, I do enjoy your posts! Malana

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Thanks Malana. I love that passage in 1 Cor especially. Yes!

  • DaniG

    I loved this post! My husband and I have been in Japan for about 15 years between the two of us (as singles and married, as students as now missionaries) and I have cried on several occasions lamenting that I honestly don’t “feel” much of a strong call to Japan. We both speak the language, love the people, love the cuisine, etc. I personally just don’t really have this strong burning sense that I am supposed to be here for life like so many others here. I’d be happy in another country, in the US, wherever! Missionaries we know speak of always “falling back on the call” and plan to be here for life (like until they retire) and I just don’t get it. All I know is that we’re here right now and we’re supposed to be here and I have no idea of anything more than that. This issue has always plagued me so I found this post so amusing and helpful. 🙂

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Thanks. I love this: “all i know is that we’re here right now and we’re supposed to be here.”

    • Malana Ganz

      Yes Dani..
      Many of the people we work with here in Panama are called to this people group, the Wounaan. But we are here for a season and have no idea where we will be when this season is over. We have strong ties to the far east of Russia (Kamchatka) but it is impossible to live there as a missionary (no visas allowed) and we don’t speak the language well.
      So are we called to a people group or just to be people of faith? I personally don’t want to be forever away from my children and grandchildren,my aging father and my siblings. And I don’t think I will be expected to do that. God put those relationships in my life. He also put my new ones in my heart….so every month as I consider that my time here is growing shorter (our commitment is until June 2016), it feels harder to say that I will leave these people I have grown to love. But leaving does not mean abandoning. We will return, but probably for visits of one to three months.
      Yes, we are all called to live a life of faith, wherever it takes us and with whichever gifts we are given.
      There are lots of us like you, Dani, and I think it is good to know that we are just as valuable as those with the life-long call.

  • Traveler

    I would say in my own experiences (Currently live on the foreign field for my 4th year). It’s come by God’s word, Circumstances, and Godly leadership.counsel in my life.
    God spoke to me clearly to move to the field,
    he then confirmed it by my job circumstance, I was freed from the Job. People saw the desire and call on my life, and supported me in it with money and prayer.
    God spoke to me by godly counsel, and word of knowledge from a pastor.
    These are ways God has confirmed it for me. I would say though that ultimately it comes down to prayer and the word.

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      So good. Practical, faith-filled, and obedient. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Rebecca Miller

    I’ve spent recent years wrestling with call. Thought I was supposed to go to East Africa for two years – but only raised enough money to go for one. Now, it appears round two will result in the same thing – not two and a half years, but one. Is it weird to think God is saying I’m NOT supposed to do missions long-term? Ha.

    Also: As I wait, I’m working on my family’s sheep farm. Makes your post resonate even more. Sheep? Check. Feral cats? Check. Snakes? Probably. As-, er, donkey? Check. (Her name is Sarah.) (c;

    • Rachel ‘Pieh’ Jones

      Your first paragraph filled me with empathy and hoping for clarification and your second had me laughing out loud.

  • Miriam

    Or you think you have a call and end up in the desert looking after sheep for FORTY years, before the real call comes. But if you then see something on fire without burning up, you’re sure of the call. And if you start to make objections, and more objections, and more objections, He will talk in to you until you submit.

    I found twenty years of waiting already a long time…

  • Tara Porter-Livesay

    Just finally getting to read this, Rachel.. SO funny (loved it) !

    I don’t like (and have not really ever liked) the word ‘called’, so I just say “it seemd like a lot of God-sized things lined up so we figured we better go.”

    • Rachel Hill

      Hmm…so good ~ I love that explanation…”God-sized things lined up.”

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