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Columnist: Has God called you to do something special?

By Glenn Dowell

Contributing columnist

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It seems as if when some people have an unexplainable event in their lives that can be classified as traumatic or life-altering, they attribute the event to God, saying He is trying to tell them something.

In all too many instances they believe that God is telling them that they should become preachers. Get struck by lightning and survive, win a battle with cancer, the single survivor of a tragic accident — the list goes on of incidents that to some, are religious callings to the pulpit.

All too often such persons go into the ministry today and within months, literally, self-appoint themselves as bishops or elders. It just appears that too many people are going into the ministry for all the wrong reasons, making it impossible or difficult to ferret out those select few who truly are called by God. Let me give you a couple of examples of people below who believed that God had actually called them to do something special.

Did God really speak to them? You be the judge

Several summers ago, during one of Georgia’s major heatwaves, it was so hot that a friend joked and said that the devil must have taken over the weather. The temperature was so hot that metro-Atlanta meteorologists issued warnings to the public about possible heat strokes for being in the sun too long without proper protection.

On one such day, I was home in my kitchen drinking coffee. As I picked up the phone to call my office, the loudest sound I have ever heard occurred.

It scared me so badly, I dropped my coffee. The reverberations from the noise appeared to violently shake my home. I immediately ran outside to investigate what had happened. It must have frightened my neighbors too, because some of them were also outside.

We gathered together in the neighborhood cul de sac. One neighbor wondered if an electric transformer has exploded, and another neighbor stated — still frightened — that the noise sounded like a bomb going off.

Guess what? It was just thunder. One of the hottest days of the summer, without a cloud in the sky and it is literally thundering like hell! It continued to thunder throughout the day, but nothing as loud and frightening as the first clasp.

Later in the evening I got together with my friend, whom I will call Lou, who lived in a neighborhood nearby. When I arrived at his house he seemed to be uneasy about something and was rather irritable. He, too, had heard the loud thunder.

He felt that God was delivering a message expressly to him to become a minister, utilizing the vehicle of the thunder. You see, Lou was in the bathroom taking a shower when he heard the thunder. The vibrations from the thunder shattered the mirrors covering an entire wall in the bathroom.

I am not an authority on how God calls people to the ministry, but I can say that of all the people to call, Lou, to me, ranked way up there as the mostly unlikely He would call to become a minister.

An insurrectionist believes he was called by God

Have you ever heard of Nat Turner, the black slave insurrectionist?

Well, Nat believed that he too, had been called by God to do something important. Before doing so, however, he successfully ran away from his owner’s plantation.

The other slaves who knew him believed that he was weird and smart, and not surprised. They were surprised, however, when, after being on the run for only a brief period, he returned to the plantation.

Nat was indeed strange. Believing in signs and hearing divine voices, he thought that a February 1831 solar eclipse was a sign from God for him to take a stance against the institution of slavery.

On Aug. 21, 1831, he led a violent rebellion, killing more than 55 slave owners, their wives and children. The chaos ended with his death in a town called, of all places, Jerusalem, Virginia.

But now, back to Lou. Nat Turner felt that the eclipse was a sign from God for him to strike a significant blow to slavery. The reality is that the eclipse was going to occur anyway.

In Lou’s case, I believe that he experienced a misinterpretation. Like too many ministers, he was seeking an easy way to make a living. Everyone heard the thunder that day.

What about you? Has God called you to do something special?

Glenn Dowell is an author and LaGrange native who currently lives in Jonesboro. He may be reached at glenn.dowell@gmail.com.