But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God…”
The story of John the Baptist certainly adds another dimension to this idea of our moment of calling. I have experienced instances of the Holy Spirit prompting me to take a specific step, and I would say that those were moments when I was called to act. I also have experienced instances of hearing an audible voice telling me to move. We might be tempted to use those instances to mark the moment when a calling begins. After all, we do not know we are called to anything specific until we are made aware of it. In the case of John the Baptist, though, his calling was told to his father before he was even conceived.
I visited the International House of Prayer in Kansas City very early in my Christian walk. I recall picking up a rental car at the airport with one of my friends, and the agent behind the counter said something curious. When we told her why we were in town, she responded by telling us that the word she had received that morning must be for us. She then proceeded to tell us that gifts and callings come without repentance and were laid before the foundations of the Earth. I think what she was trying to tell us is that a calling by God does not happen in a moment. Our callings stand outside of time as God himself does. I might not be made aware of a certain calling until today, but I always have been called to that.
I read the story of John the Baptist, and I see that his calling was in fact what he was destined to do and be. It was for him and no one else to prepare the way for the Lord. He scarcely knew as a child that this would be in his future, and we do not know at what point he became aware of this calling. What we do know is that he was called to this work before he was even a thought in his mother’s mind, when he was only a prayer on his father’s lips. When God calls us to do his work, He is only presenting us with the opportunity to walk out our destiny. Father, thank You for choosing us to be your laborers long before we chose You and for setting our destiny in your calling.