HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 13, 2013 – 12:00am
What if God talked to you? Would you answer? What if he asked you to do something, would you really do it?”
I once posted those questions on Twitter and a majority of respondents said they would answer and obey whatever God bid them to do. I smiled to myself, upon seeing how easily most of them gave their answer. I felt they probably didn’t give it much thought and I wondered how many of them would actually respond positively if God actually called.
I’ve been thinking about this question lately. I must confess I’ve detected “callings” at certain points in my life. I have ignored some and responded to others.
I do not want to get into biblical accounts about those who claimed to answer God’s call, like Moses or Noah. I do not want this article to lean in any way towards any Christian group’s understanding of what God’s call or will is.
“The call” is something that happens to everyone and I want to focus on the down-to-earth human aspect of how people in the modern world respond to it, or if they still hear God (or whatever they want to call the Source) talk to them.
I find it interesting that Pope Benedict stepped down because, he said, God told him to. I know he is a man of discernment and has spent much of his life interpreting the Catholic faith. I can believe that he can determine a real call from a false one. Some cynical people may see his stepping down for less divine reasons and compulsions. But I will grant him his claim and take his word for it.
David Capra, an Australian writer on the art scene, wrote about a woman named Elizabeth who claimed to have been called by God to fulfill a certain mission years ago. The call was simple: God supposedly told her to ride trains and shake hands with people she would meet and spread the love of God, through that simple human contact.
Capra writes about meeting Elizabeth and seeing her in action.
“I will never look at a train trip the same way after my evening with Elizabeth. Elizabeth believes God has commissioned her to shake people’s hands and offer her hand to entire carriages of people. It was pretty captivating witnessing it all unfold before me. It was like theater, the train transformed, opening up potential for a very ordinary yet thrilling human exchange. People responded in all sorts of ways from laughter, bewilderment, to anger. In a recent phone conversation, Elizabeth said, ‘Please let people know that I am congratulating them for making it this far, because life can be hard.’”
I imagine that when Elizabeth heard “the call,” she must have struggled with it. She must have felt in her heart that the voice she heard was authentic. And that was the problem. The call must have also seemed ridiculous at first, and illogical. And it could have been easily construed as silly. And yet she developed the courage to follow it and she has been shaking hands with people for years.
I have no doubt that everyone is called by God to do something. It may not always be dramatic, such as saving the world or things of that sort, or doing something that will create a visible impact that everyone will notice. Sometimes, it can be a simple call to get married and raise a family, or take on a certain profession, or befriend someone, or perform an act of kindness. It can be anything. But the call will always demand courage and faith. It is each person’s discernment that will help him or her determine what he or she is being asked to do.
We all make deals with God. I know people who promise to alter their behavior if certain favors are granted. I am guilty of doing that quite often. And, regrettably, I do not always fulfill my end of the bargain, even when I get what I ask for.
Speaking of which, last week, I did my very first concert in Sydney as a solo artist. The project had a rough start. It went through three producers before it finally got off the ground.
In the last two weeks before the concert, the production hit big snags that discouraged our optimism and enthusiasm. While maintaining a go-go-go attitude on the outside to keep the enterprise in high spirits, I began to doubt the viability of the project.
In the midst of my doubt, I prayed silently and asked God to use the outcome of the concert as a sign to let me know if I should continue performing solo, or just quit and retire altogether.
I asked God for a clear sign if He wanted me to retire and do something else. I was ready to accept that painful prospect. If the concert were a failure, I would see it as a sign to stop performing. But if, by some miracle, it turned out to be successful despite the problems, I would continue to do what I’ve always loved to do.
APO had a great run of 41 years. Was I being stubborn and not reading the handwriting on the wall? Maybe I had run my course. Showbiz is a young people’s world. Was I in denial?
Was it time for me to go full-time into teaching, writing and other stuff? Was it time for a total sea change and plunge my energies into something else? If I was being blind, I prayed that God would please give me a jolt so I could see things clearly. I kept all this to myself.
But when concert day came, what transpired was a dream come true. Everything about it exceeded our expectations. It turned out to be a roaring success, both critically and commercially. Everyone, including my guests, producers, sponsors and audience, were more than happy. I had a great time and felt that my life work was validated.
Even if the cynic in me could “explain” in hindsight how the concert had a successful outcome, I have a positive feeling that my questions were divinely answered. Am I reading too much into the situation? Some may argue that yes, I am. But then again, maybe I am not.
Regardless, I felt that my prayer was answered. I trusted my intuition. I was not asking for any material gain. In fact, I had laid everything on the line. I was ready to give up something I loved to do if that was “the call.” I asked for direction and clarity, and I feel in my heart that I got it.
I am not a religious person. I will confess that there are a lot of things about religion I am not comfortable with. But I have always been spiritual and my engagement with a God I have been trying to understand has been a life-long affair.
Yes, I will continue pursuing my “calling,” my pursuit of my musical passion. I do not truly understand the whys and hows of divine messages, but I feel assured that it came. I was not merely talking to myself. I asked for it, and I got an answer.
Thank you, God.