Steve Burkholder Missionary in Tanznaia
Is “feeling” called of God into missions enough to validate a missionary calling? Certainly God created us with “feelings” and He can use our emotions to touch and stir our hearts towards greater service for Him. However, there is a danger of using feelings, emotions, and experiences as the sole foundation for a missionary call. The call of God into missions must have a solid Scriptural foundation.
A prime example of this is the apostle Paul. Acts 9 records the dramatic events of his trip to Damascus to continue his persecution against believers. Suddenly he was on the ground, surrounded by a blinding light, and having a personal conversation with Jesus from heaven! After being blind for three days, he was prayed for by Ananias, and his sight was restored. During these dramatic events and emotions, Paul was told of God’s future purpose and calling in missions (Acts 22 and 26).
Not only was his salvation and ministry calling dramatic, but his life of missionary service was filled with dramatic experiences and strong emotions. In spite of all the “drama,” Paul explained what his missionary calling was based on in Romans 15:20-21 where he wrote, “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand” (emphasis mine).
The apostle Paul is quoting from the great Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 52, which describes the coming and suffering of the promised Messiah and how His blood would be shed for all nations. “So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (v.15).
The apostle Paul did not rely on his dramatic experiences and feelings when describing his missionary calling, but rather he quoted from Scripture God’s promise that those who had never heard shall be reached through the preaching of the Gospel.
It was these very verses that God used in my life to confirm the missionary calling. How many times I have gone back to this passage and renewed my calling when I was not “feeling” called! There will be days you will not “feel” called, but a calling based on the unchanging and eternal Word of God will help you endure those “bad feeling” days.
Are you “feeling” called? If you are at the beginning of your calling, search the Scriptures and pray for God to confirm your calling through His Word. Perhaps you are further along in your calling, and you are in one of those stages where you are not “feeling called.” You need to go back and remember those precious verses God used to confirm your calling and boldly state, “As it is written.”