January 28: God is Calling

God is Calling

Exodus 3: 1-10

January 28, 2024

(Liturgist read the Bold section)

          This is the second message in a series on discernment. We are discerning God’s call on our lives as we start a new year.

          “I hear my name. I’m being called. I’ve got to go.”

          I grew up in a comfortable neighborhood in the northeast corner of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Behind our house lived two guys, Jim and Steve, who were about my age. We spent a lot of time together after school and during the summer. We would wander together through the backyards and alleys hiding and finding each other.  I found some great places to hide. I could stay there for the longest time. Only one thing would cause me to stop playing. Only one thing would cause me to leave my hiding spot and head home.

          My mother calling my name.

          “I hear my name. I’m being called. I’ve got to go.”

          Since then, I’ve grown up and moved from the world of play to the world of work and activity. But still I’ve often said those same words, “I hear my name. I’m being called. I’ve got to go.”

          For I believe God never stops calling us.

We’ll be exploring this morning what God is calling each of us to do in the coming year. One way we’ll do that is by answering some questions on our insert a little later. I hope this is a way of making the message applicable to our lives.

Let’s get into our Scripture reading by imagining the conversation that might have happened between Moses and his ten-year-old granddaughter, Elisa. I’ll play the role of Elisa. John will play the role of Moses.

Moses is sitting cross-legged by a roaring fire, late at night. His granddaughter Elisa sneaks out of her tent and runs across the sand to the fire. She sits down beside Moses.

“What are you doing up so late Elisa?”

“I couldn’t sleep, grandpa.”


“Mom and dad told me that we were all leaving. Something about going to Egypt. What’s going on grandpa?”

“I heard my name, Elisa. I’m being called. I’ve got to go. We’ve got to go.”

“Who called your name?”

“Dear, let me tell you what happened yesterday. I was taking care of the sheep, like I do every day, like I’ve done every day for the past forty years.

“Wow, you must be old, grandpa.”

“I used to think that 60 was old. It doesn’t seem that old anymore, Elisa.”

“Tell me the story.”

“I was on the lower slope of that mountain over there. I was chasing after a wayward sheep, when all of a sudden, the bush in front of me was on fire.”

“Are you pulling my leg Grandpa?”

“No, it was blazing like this fire here, except the bush wasn’t burning up. I said to myself, ‘This is strange. I’ll go over and see why it isn’t burning up.’ When I got closer, I heard my name. Someone said, ‘Moses.’ I looked around but I didn’t see anyone. Then I heard my name again, ‘Moses.’ The voice was coming from the bush. I answered, ‘Here I am’. The voice said, ‘Don’t come any closer. Take off your sandals – the ground you are standing on is holy.’”

“Who was it grandpa?”

“I asked the same question. The voice said, ‘I am the God who was worshipped by your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’”

“It was God?”

“Yes, Elisa. I was afraid to look at God so I hid my face.”

“So what did God say?”

“God told me I was to leave here and return to Egypt to lead my people out of Egypt.”

“I don’t want to go to Egypt. I don’t want to leave my friends. I don’t want to leave this holy mountain. I can’t believe you would leave behind your job of taking care of the sheep. I mean, who’s going to do it if you don’t?”

“Elisa, I hear my name. I’m being called. I’ve got to go. We’ve got to go. I know that means letting go so much we’ve come to hold dear. But it’s God who is calling. We’re just going to have let go. We can do it. God will help us.”

Moses said, “It’s God who is calling. We’re just going to have to let go.” We’ve heard that message before, haven’t we? I’ve said from time to time that new beginnings mean what? Letting go.

It means letting go of something to make room for us to do something new for God. I believe that what God called us to be doing at age 30 was different from what God called us to be doing at age 60 which was different from what God called us to be doing at age 80 which will be different from what God will call us to do in our nineties. Along the way, is a lot of ‘letting go.’ We let go of our former vocation so we can be responsive to our new vocation. 

There was a time of silence as the two of them stared into the fire. The wood was starting to burn down. The fire was turning from bright yellow to a deep red.


“Yes, Elisa?”

“How can you be sure?”

“What do you mean?”

“How can you be sure that going to Egypt is what you’re supposed to do? Couldn’t God get someone else to go?”

“That’s a good question, Elisa. Actually, God and I had some heated conversation about that out by the burning bush. I asked the same question of God. Why me? Why not someone else? We went back and forth for quite a while.”

How can we know what God is calling you or me to do in 2024? What is God’s mission for us in 2024? How do we know? Most of us aren’t privileged to have a conversation with the voice of God in a burning bush.

To help us answer that question I’m going to share six resources, six pieces of advice and six questions.

Let’s look at the six resources. God can use any of these six resources to speak to us. God doesn’t usually use burning bushes. More often God will use one of these resources to call us to our vocation. I’ve listed them in your insert.

  1. Scripture. God uses the words of the Bible to talk to us, to give us some direction or confirmation about what we are to do.
  2. A respected friend, spouse or other family member. God uses people who know us well. They can give us honest feedback about what we might sense God’s vocation is for us. They can help us clarify a calling. They might even speak to us God’s word.
  3. A pastor, spiritual director or counselor. There are some people who have more training as it relates to listening to God’s direction. I have found a spiritual director helpful in the past twenty-five years. My present spiritual director Barbara Toshalis will be joining us next Sunday to help me share my message.
  4. A book or other media. I learn so much and sense God’s call on my life in such clear ways as I read. Today, God’s burning bushes come in so many new technological shapes – like movies and television and the Internet.
  5. A retreat. Sometimes it’s helpful to get away to be able to really listen to God. I remember many years ago getting away to my friend Allan’s cottage during a difficult time of decision-making. It was before he retired so he was not living there. I was able to be with God in this retreat like setting in a way I couldn’t in my own home.
  6. Silence and solitude. Even if we can’t get away, we can find some quiet place and listen to God.

     Those are six resources God can use to help us discern our vocation.

     Now, let’s look at six pieces of advice.

  1. Think small, not big. We probably aren’t being called on to change the world or save the nation of Israel like Moses. We are probably called to do something small. I like that quote: “Most of us will never do great things. But we can do small things in a great way.”
  2. Think gifts, not magic. God usually uses the unique gifts God has created us with and nurtured within us. God doesn’t usually zap us with some magic power, not usually.
  3. Think passion, not drudgery. God usually uses the passions within to us to lead us to our mission. Fredrick Buechner said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
  4. Think consolation, not desolation. Consolation is when we feel energized, hopeful, and alive with godly contentment. It is where we feel drawn closer to God. Desolation is when we feel our energy is sapped or we are being drawn away from God. I believe there is a peace that God brings to our hearts when we’re following God’s vocation for us. Sometimes it’s only recognized in the rearview mirror.
  5. Think realistic, not nostalgic. We are not the person we were ten years ago. Many of us are not in the location we were ten years ago. What is God’s realistic call for us at our age, in our situation, in our location? How has God’s call on our lives changed? What do we need to let go? What is our new mission for God in the coming year?
  6. Think partner, not solo. This is what God and Moses eventually agreed to.

          Let’s go back to Moses and his granddaughter sitting by the dying embers of the fire.

          “So, Grandpa, what was the result of your conversation with God?”

          “Elisa, let me tell you what was said. I’m almost embarrassed now by some of the things I said, so I hope you don’t think poorly of me. I told God, ‘I’ve never been a good speaker. I can never think of what to say.’ But God was persistent. I begged God, ‘God, please send someone else to do it.’ God still didn’t let me off the hook. God said, ‘What about your brother Aaron the Levite? I know he is a good speaker. He’s already on his way to visit you. Aaron will speak to the people for you. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will tell each of you what to do.’”

6. Like God, Moses, and Aaron – think partner, not solo. Many ministry opportunities call for more than one person to be involved. It means we need to find someone else who has a similar calling or passion. Paul’s analogy of the body of Christ made up of many different parts is helpful.

          We’ve looked at six resources and six pieces of advice. Now, we get to the place where we can all participate with our pens. I’d like you to turn to your insert to the six questions under the heading, What is God’s Mission for You in 2024?

  1. What do people say they appreciate most about you?
  2. What do you have to offer these days?
  3. Whose voices of need do you hear crying out?
  4. What are you passionate about?
  5. How are you presently in ministry?
  6. What new mission may God be calling you to?

          I’m going to give you a few minutes to start working on the answers to these questions. Remember the six resources and the six pieces of advice as you’re answering your questions. Once again, we won’t have you share your answers aloud this morning, but it might be helpful to share your answers with a loved one this week.

          We’ll work on this for a few minutes before John and I finish the sermon.

          “So what did you say to God that time Grandpa?”

           “I told God ‘Yes, I would go to Egypt with my brother Aaron.’

          “Why did you say yes?”

          “It comes down to this Elisa. I heard my name. It was God speaking. I’m being called. I’ve got to go. We’ve got to go. And you, my little one, need to get back to bed.”

          We hear our name. We are called. It is God speaking. We’ve got to go.

          We’ll continue to reflect on the answers to the questions as we listen to our special music.

God is Calling


  1. Scripture
  2. Friends, Family, Spouse
  3. Pastor, Spiritual Director, Counselor
  4. Book or Media
  5. Retreat
  6. Silence and Solitude


  1. Think small, not big
  2. Think gifts, not magic
  3. Think passion, not drudgery
  4. Think consolation, not desolation
  5. Think realistic, not nostalgic
  6. Think partner, not solo


  1. What do people say they appreciate most about you?
  2. What do you have to offer these days?
  3. Whose voices of need do you hear crying out?
  4. What are you passionate about and what brings you joy?
  5. How are you presently in ministry?
  6. What new mission or ministry may God be calling you to?


  1. Marilyn Poole

    Hi Mike, I’ve really enjoyed reading your sermon series on discernment and have found it very helpful. As Dave and I move through our 80s with the bulk of our lives behind us, we face the question of “What’s next?” That includes what do we do and where do we live? It’s comforting to cling to the “same old same old” but that may someday not be physically possible. How soon do we anticipate and act on this eventuality ? Also, what do we do to remain as contributing members of God’s kindom? The looming future can be very scary especially when our lives have followed such a consistent, predictable pattern for so long. We’re now starting to face our “fog on the lake” as we look for direction. Your sermons have provided tools for finding our way out of the fog. Thank you!!

    1. colomaucc_dfpnxc (Post author)

      Glad I could be of some help! Prayers and blessings your way…


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