Call and Calling
Recently I spoke with a woman about the joys of serving for a very long time in just one place. For over three decades I was blessed to do varied and interesting work. I did not take good work for granted. I believe God calls us toward a profession, a calling, in which we can burst forth with color. God helps us see the offering we might make, one that gladdens our hearts and meets a hungry world in need. Then we are given the confidence to do the work and the strength to leave behind the voices with all their bad advice.
The hardest voices to banish are the ones coming from your own head. Often they spring up like weeds from the neural valleys of a wounded childhood. Unfortunately, we are often left to do our own weeding. But with people who love us deeply those internal voices can be stilled, replaced with a beautiful new voice you are surprised to recognize as your own – full of confidence and laughter, fierce determination and abiding comfort.
One’s calling, or vocation, should not be confused with the call of God to a specific task. That call usually arises from within your broader calling, but is a summons to a place as yet unknown, untried, and usually terrifying. It is a call to cross a vast sea to a new land with fallen branches and stones. If you accept this call you may or may not find happiness. You may not even find peace. Maybe you will find joy, the kind that comes from accepting what is. And you are likely to find power, wisdom, and strength.
My daughters bought me a bouquet of summer flowers. They were beautiful. The strangest thing happened. They refused to die. For weeks they stayed and stayed, offering their welcome with each new morning, blessing me with their faithfulness. I took the last one and pressed it between the pages of a book of poetry, right next to a butterfly I once knew who taught me ever so much. If we are fortunate our calling will be experienced like that bouquet, resilient and full of life.
Over the years I have received a number of specific calls to particular tasks. I answered some. I refused a few. To answer God’s call brought life and strength and hope. To refuse it brought the dull absence of authenticity. The specific call of God continues. As always it is frightening, exciting, terrifying. The next one is usually the hardest yet. But leaving the voices behind, you answer the call.