To date, it is the most distinct time I can remember God calling me, rousing me out of a deep sleep, to do something.

It was just a little after 4 AM. I woke suddenly, sleepy. The Lord stirred me to get up, to go into the living room, so I did. I sat on the sofa, nearly unable to open my eyes. The room was chilled; I reached for a throw and wrapped it around myself. “Okay,” I prayed. “I’m here.”

Within moments God impressed upon me to pray for a woman I barely knew. I remember questioning this order, but only for the slightest of seconds. The woman was someone I’d met earlier that year, in the summer months. We were in the same industry—Christian publication—but not in the same area. She lived no more than two miles from my home, but our paths had crossed but once.

I began to pray. Not knowing her, I hardly knew what to pray, so I implored of the Lord, “What do you want me to pray, Lord?” He whispered to my spirit, “Focus.”

What I didn’t know until later was at the very moment God was telling me to pray for focus to come to this woman, she was being pursued by a would-be robber. As I was calling for “focus” in her life, the Spirit of the Living God was whispering to her as she made her getaway to safety, “Focus, Kathleen. Focus.”

She is now my best friend.

When God Calls

There are several instances in the Bible of God calling to the hearts of people and those people responding.

Genesis 46 continues the story of Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham. He had encountered God in a place he called Bethel (House of God) while on the run from his twin, Esau. He had lived with his mother’s family; married two cousins (sisters) had two concubines, twelve sons and at least one daughter. One of his sons, Joseph, had been kidnapped by his own brothers and had risen to the ranks of governor in Egypt. With famine in the land of Jacob, it was time to move from home and head down to Joseph’s adopted country where he would be cared for until he died.

So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, "Jacob! Jacob!"

"Here I am," he replied.

"I am God, the God of your father," he said. "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph's own hand will close your eyes." (Gen. 46:1-4)

I find it interesting that God does not address himself as Jacob’s God, but rather the God of his father, Isaac. It’s as if the relationship between Jacob (also called Israel) and God had been surface at best. While in a time of worship, God called out to the one on whose seed He would build His people, and Jacob immediately cried out, “Here I am.” God then gives Jacob the assurances he needs to continue on with the next step, the last step, in his amazing life. God became Jacob’s God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

A similar moment occurs in 1 Samuel 3. Samuel, who grew to be a great prophet in Israel and the anointer of David as king, is but a young boy. He is living in the temple with the old priest Eli. One night while sleeping near the ark of God, Samuel was awakened by a voice calling his name. Samuel thought it was Eli. He ran to the elderly gentleman and said, “Here I am.” But it wasn’t Eli who called him, so Eli sent him back to bed. Again, it happened and again Eli sent Samuel back to bed.

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. (1 Samuel 3: 7-11)