Are you wrong about your calling?
You think your calling is to do something, to be someone great (even if it is only great to one person). To change the world, or at least your corner of it. You think your calling is to a particular state in life, or to a particular job, to a particular place, or to spend your life with and for particular people. You spend time and energy worrying and wondering if you can or will ever measure up to this mysterious calling everyone says you have. It keeps you up at night, trying to figure out what it could be, or worrying about how good (or “bad”) of a job you are doing at living it.
I want to affirm you.
Your heart is good and you are absolutely doing your best.
You yearn for all that because you ARE made to do all those things. Your dreams are beautiful, holy even. But, there is a calling that 95% of the best intentioned people miss first, the calling that gives shape and form and purpose and clarity, and possibility to anything and everything else that might come afterward.
And that calling is to COME.
Think about the nature of calling for one second.
It is a beckoning. A summoning. A drawing near.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, CALL me to come to you upon the water.” And the Lord said, “COME”. – Matthew 14:28
When He calls the apostles, He simply says their names and they drop everything they have to follow Him. (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:2-11)
When they ask, “Master, where are you staying?” He says “Come and see” – John 1:38
Martha was busy, anxious and worried about many things, trying to serve the Lord, while Mary sat at His feet, and it was Mary who chose the better part. – Luke 10:42
An Analogy for Calling
When I call my children I first expect them to come. I want to lock eyes with them and make sure we are both on the same page. I need to get down at their level and make the rest of the world disappear before anything else. For a moment it’s just me and them and nothing else matters. They must know they are loved and entrusted with a valuable (and very clear) mission with a true and valuable purpose before I EVER send them out to do anything.
Does this always go perfectly smoothly in a chaotic family environment?
Lol – Rarely!
However, I can tell you for certain, that when it does go smoothly, I KNOW before it is even done, that the kid I asked for help will accomplish their task, they will do it well and with a sense of self-worth. They will be creative, and take risks, knowing that I believe in them to do the task they have been given well. They focus and finish their undertakings with pride and a joyful spirit, knowing that they are valued and have loved their family well.
If I am too busy to call my children by the correct name, to get down on their level, to make sure we are all on the same page, to answer all the questions, quell all the fears, to cultivate an intimate relationship first, and to unflinchingly take whatever time is necessary to do so, and instead resort to barking orders all day from the other room – it may seem “faster”, or “easier”. I may not be asking anything unreasonable or even out of the ordinary of them, but if I “send” them without calling them first, then it is a safe bet that their response will be begrudging at best. They will be confused about the simplest tasks, easily distracted, and whatever results I do get will be poorly executed, if they do it at all.
This parenting analogy is the perfect one for this distinction I think is so important when we contemplate calling.
When God “calls us”, He is CALLING us, not sending us.
We are called to come first to His arms, to His heart. We are called to live with Him, and be with Him, and eat with Him, and read scriptures with Him and to listen to Him as He “opens them to us”. Our calling is first and foremost an invitation to intimacy with God. An invitation to know Him, and to fall in love with Him. To understand His purpose, His “kingdom”, His deepest desires (all in all, the purpose of being sent).
The disciples spent 3 years living with the Lord. Listening to Him, learning what His voice sounds like, and the kind of things He might have in mind for them to do – which, by the way, He doesn’t even fully reveal until He’s practically ascending into Heaven. The rest of it is just hints, bite-sized pieces of the bigger picture.
And yet, it all fits together. All the pieces make sense once we are able to see them as part of a whole. All the little callings, like love, generosity, forgiveness, trust, patience, gentleness, wisdom, service, and keeping the commandments, are both means and manifestations of intentionally living this life in pursuit of the One who calls us to Himself.
What does this look like on a practical level?
Every situation He puts in our path is an invitation – an invitation to find Him in that moment, an invitation to tap in and hold on, to trust and to discover Him more deeply. Every day is an opportunity to spend time with Him in the Scriptures so that we might learn to recognize Him in our circumstances.
Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ – Jerome
As for your “state in life”, if He is calling you to marriage, it is because somehow you will find Him best there. **Side note – The day I realized that marriage wasn’t about growing closer to my spouse, my mind was BLOWN!** If He is calling you to single working life or to a life of religious dedication, it is not because there you will do great things, it is because it is there that you will find Him.
And when we find God, my dear, when He fills us to bursting, when we finally understand who we are in light of whose we are, when we understand purpose and meaning and who God is, and what it means to be called – to be chosen from all the world to fall in love with God in an intimate way, then we cannot help but shout it from the rooftops. We cannot help but desire to go out and know that our sole mission is to invite others to this same relationship.
Being called is not a demand, or a crimp on our style. It is not an infringement of our freedom to choose anything over God. It is simply an expression of love, of entrustment, that says, I want you. It is God getting vulnerable with us, confessing His love and giving us a chance to accept Him or reject Him. It is an opportunity, an invitation (rather than a demand), to voluntarily use our freedom to choose God back.
God you don’t need me but somehow You want me – “Control” – Tenth Avenue North
This is what heaven is, a deep and passionate intimacy with the One who made us and who makes everything make sense. It’s not about fancy prayers and big meals, like some kind of eternal Thanksgiving dinner. It’s about our hearts matching with His, and His life fueling our own.
This is where so many are getting confused. We must stop worrying about the “greatness” of being sent until we learn the intimacy of being called.
Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
Let the children come to me – Matthew 19:14
No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one and come. – Song of Songs 2:10
If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you own and give to the poor […]; and come, follow me. – Matthew 19:21
Everything else will fall into place.
Tiny Disclaimer and One Final note:
Do not think I am saying that just because heaven isn’t ABOUT a banquet that heaven will not be a banquet. On the contrary, it is natural and even important to share meals with those whom we love, as it grounds and increases intimacy.
Do not take this article to mean that sending is somehow inferior to being called, but rather that there is a critical and often forgotten “order of operations” here. In order for us to truly bear fruit and live a life of mission and service, we must be so connected to the Source that His life naturally flows from us. (Think the Vine and the Branches)
Do not presume to think that I am saying in any way that marriage should not bring your closer to your spouse. If both spouses are growing closer to God, then they naturally grow closer to each other. He is cool like that 😉
All those things you have always seen as good and beautiful are still good and beautiful and can and should happen. All I am saying is that we must never forget the Source and the Center of our purpose.
Remembering this might likely help put new perspective on passages like:
Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself… – Matthew 6: 33-34
Do not worry about your life… – Matthew 6:25-34
Do not worry about what you are to say… – Mark 13:11
And there are a hundred others!
What’s your favorite verse or situation this new perspective might help you appreciate better? Share below!