Sticks and Stones…. {The issue of “calling.”}

Words can cut, yes?

There is this word that is cavalierly wielded in Christian circles that I believe has left many a scar. The word is “calling.”

We ask with urgency and desperation, “What is our calling?”

We say no, we wait, we tentatively walk forward in some areas, yet we feel shackled, listening with bated breath to hear the proverbial phone ring and for God to tell us where, when, what we are called to so that our feet might be released, our life might begin, our soul be satisfied, and our story complete!

But what if that is not what it’s all about?

I have no doubt that the Lord cares about every detail of our lives. I trust that when he says that he has “ordained the times and places that we should live,” in Acts 17, that he meant it. I trust that there are seasons when the Lord has a specific place I am to be because there is a specific person with whom He as made a divine appointment for me. I trust that we really do have choice in our life’s path and sometimes God says pick. And other times He really does direct our steps because there is a BEST path. I believe that whether you are becoming a dentist or a pastor, that God has something to say about it and that if you are a follower of Jesus, everything is spiritual and every profession is a place where disciples are to be made.

But as I search the scriptures, the word calling seems to have little to do with our place or our vocation. The greek reveals that it is synonymous with “invitation”… and in most every context, the invitation of God is made not to a place or a pedigree.

It is an invitation that has no expiration date save for the day our heart stops beating.

It is an invitation to Himself. 

My husband and I experienced a most incredible season of what many might call “coincidences” that led to us moving to the city we currently live in, where we pour out our lives in the hopes that our community, and more specifically the young people in our community, know the God that created them.  While on a sabbatical, Marshall one day filled several pages in his journal, bullet point, of the conversations, confirmations, “chance” meetings, prayers answered, prophetic dreams offered by people who knew nothing of our circumstances, that led to an interview that felt like a formality because we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the job was ours regardless of how much more qualified the competition might have been.

If I have ever experienced a “calling” in the sense of the word that has to do with WHAT we are to do and WHERE we are to live, then this was it.

Sure enough, we were hired, given the most amazing housing situation next door to dear friends, connected to community… We had our calling!

And yet… I was lost.

The one thing I had heard from the Lord in that time before we moved was to say no until He said yes. For a “yes girl”, this was difficult. I largely stepped back from all that I had known in our previous world of ministry as I watched, waited, painted house, parented. My three little men took every bit I would give them so I was busy, yes! But I was grasping at straws trying to  find “my place”… some sense of anchoring in this new world. I was insecure, felt generally liked but not really known, not a “part” of anything. I was looking to get affirmation from all sorts of places and felt like I had reverted to some haggard version of my high school self. For four months I floundered.

Much like He did with the woman at the well, the Lord set up a divine appointment with me at a place also near water… yes, it was Great Wolf Lodge, of all places, at a leadership retreat for Young Life one year ago. From the first song, He had my attention, and he went to work that weekend reminding me of WHO I AM, WHO he made me to be, but largely WHOSE I am. The details of that will go unspoken, but this is what I have been noodling on since that day:

We get so caught up in the WHAT of what we are called to, but if we miss the WHO… we will be left largely dissatisfied even if we are in the exact place we are called to be.

We are called TO Jesus.

We are called to BE children of God.

We are called to be A REFLECTION of Him.

Like a mirror, we can only reflect the things we stare in the face of…

As I began to gaze in the face of Jesus, he began to remind me of ME. Of the me He made me to be. He reminded me that I belong to Him and that joy and the sweetest of satisfaction, regardless of my circumstances, is found in relationship with Him.

Let’s go back to Acts 17:26-28: {italics mine}

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,  for

‘In him we live and move and have our being’

as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we are indeed his offspring.”

… The times and places that we are to live? They are NOT the point! They are only a means to knowing HIM.

Today, TODAY, let’s draw away. Let’s ask Him who knows us in our inmost being, who knows us better than we know ourselves, to reveal to us HIS heart, HIS design for how we are to live.

You have been called to be a child of the most high God, to so gaze upon his face that you reflect Him to the world. As Ruth Haley Barton says, “We are saved from who we are NOT and called to who we ARE.” And there is nothing sweeter.

No circumstance, no fire, no rejection, no miscarriage, no injury, no move, no death, no life can separate us.

He doesn’t give us hope. He is our hope.

He says, COME, and be healed. I pray the wounds you have been given from your waiting, your watching, your thwarted dreams, your dashed hopes, would be healed.

I pray that He would be your prize.

I believe you have Someone waiting…

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