Last night, at our cell group at Warwick University, we were talking about how God had led or 'called' us in our lives. The thing that struck me was that, yes, there were some really radical decisions that had been made (you don't make lifelong commitments or live in community because it seems like a nice idea), and yet - there were no 'telegrams from heaven'.
Sure, there were particular moments were God spoke fairly clearly to some of us, but mainly it was through unfolding circumstances, growing understanding and - this was probably the main one - relationships.
We often say (a bit parrot-fashion, if I'm honest) that people need to know that God is calling them before they commit to things like community. I wouldn't deny this... and yet...
Is it really valid to say, 'I'm waiting for God to call me to give up my personal possessions and my own life'? Hasn't He done that already? (Luke 14:33)
But, sure, people need to see it and to hear from God and to be sure, if they're gonna last the course. Jesus taught this kind of carefulness too, if you read the rest of Luke 14...
So what am I saying? I guess that we need to respond to the clear commands of Jesus in the gospels with honesty and with a process of weighing up how we can best live them out. For this we need to hear God and we need each other. Even Paul, who signed most of his epistles with 'Paul, called to be an apostle', discerned this call with the help of others (Acts 13:1-3).
My own journey into 'all things in common' community was a big mix: being filled with the Spirit, hunger for more of God, reading the Bible, some straight challenges from people, having my wallet nicked by a homeless lad, finding a spiritual 'Dad', revelation - and some 'holy coincidences' like asking God 'What should I do with my life?' then pressing play on my CD player to have the words 'The call is to community' sung out at me (a Michael Card song I seem to remember)! The whole process took about three years. Actually, what am saying: the process is still going on. God still calls.
And I still want to follow.