- Steve Auth
Path #2: Answering the Phone
To continue the journey we started last week, the second path to the heart of a missionary is what I call “Answering the Phone.”
Like suffering, answering the phone is largely reactive; we don’t initiate the call, we simply respond to it. The difficulty in the spiritual life is that often we don’t want to answer the phone, because we know deep down inside that once we do, there is going to be an “ask.” And we might not like it. It might inconvenience us. Embarrass us. Cost us time or money we could have used for something WE wanted to do.
Of course, we rarely admit that this is why we are not answering the call. Usually we have a better excuse. Peter tried, “Depart from me Lord, for I am an unholy man.” (Lk 5:8) And if Peter, why not me? After all, few of us are ever holy enough to take on a saintly assignment. If you think about this, the “I’m not holy enough for the job” excuse is pretty prideful. It implies that there is some request the Lord could make for which we would be holy enough, when of course there isn’t. We’re not holy enough for any saintly job. But here’s the rub: we don’t need to be. “The Lord does not call the equipped. He equips the called.”
Another frequent excuse is to feign confusion or poor hearing. This seems to be St. Matthew’s response in “The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio. “Was that a call for me? No, couldn’t be. I’m busy on another (better) assignment—counting money! Must be a wrong number.” Or, “That felt like it could be the Lord calling me, but on second thought, I doubt it. After all, why would he call ME? He doesn’t need me! He’s God!” After all, when communicating with the Almighty, one can never really hear his voice. So, a safe route would seem to be to assume that any calls that seem remotely out of our comfort zone must be wrong numbers. This approach will surely result in fewer wrong turns and spiritual cul de sacs, and in this sense is “safe”. But it will also forgo opportunities to do something very special with the Lord that might have changed your
entire spiritual course.
So, if you think you are getting a call from the Lord, try this: ANSWER THE PHONE! Think about it, was there ever a case where you answered the Lord’s call and later regretted doing so? On the other hand, can you maybe think of at least one time when you did something you knew the Lord didn’t want you to, and later, didn’t regret it?