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Discerning God's Call

Valerie Ferrara

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! ...

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

 

What is God’s call, and how can we hear it? Mrs. Rebekah Guerra, Dean of the Boston Trinity Academy Middle School, addressed those questions in Chapel on Wednesday morning.

When Mrs. Guerra was little, she wanted to be a vet. “As you all know, I am not a vet,” Mrs. Guerra quipped. She never imagined she would be a teacher, yet here she is. What happened?

“Over the years, God has put His desires into my heart and has gently led me to where I am today…standing in front of all of you, hoping to encourage some of you to listen for God’s call,” she said.

Mrs. Guerra had attended church all her life. She could recite the Morning Prayer and the Communion services word for word, but had no idea what it all meant. During a week at church camp one summer, however, God called Mrs. Guerra in a way she could hear and understand. She realized God was asking her to surrender her free will to Him and acknowledge His Lordship. Since doing so, she has wanted to follow His plans for her life; she wanted to discern His call and respond to it. How does one accomplish this?

“There are three important steps that enable us to discern God’s call,” she said. “Reading His Word, praying often, and submitting our plans to those with authority in our lives.”

First, God has given us the Bible, His word. Any plans we make should align with His word, which is a “lamp to guide our feet and a light for our path” (Psalm 119:105). It is essential, Mrs. Guerra admonished, to read the whole Bible and not just a verse here and there.

Second, we need to keep talking to God. We take time to speak with our friends, as only in doing this will we understand one another’s feelings, desires, and emotions. God wants us to talk to Him in the same way, and He desires to respond to us. Psalm 37:3-4 says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  God is asking us to be with Him, Mrs. Guerra explained. “I have come to understand the last part of this verse in a new way over the years. God doesn’t always give us what we want. Instead He puts His desires for us into our hearts so that our desires align with His good will.”

Third, we can discern God’s leading as we submit ourselves to the body of Christ (other believers). “It is important that we not try to hear God’s call alone,” Mrs. Guerra said. She continued that sometimes God’s call is loud and clear, while other times it is quiet. “God is calling us all the time,” she said as she concluded. “We have to listen in order to hear Him. We must know His Word, both the [Bible] and Jesus.”

How can you know God’s will and hear His call? Ask yourself if what you want to do lines up with God’s word. Pray about it, and discuss your choices with those who have some measure of authority in your family or your church. Finally, when you take steps to follow what you believe to be God’s call, is He making a way for you? “Our Father God loves us,” Mrs. Guerra encouraged. “He doesn’t take delight in obscuring our paths. He wants us to walk in the good way He has set before us.”