For many years now, I’ve been sort of fascinated with the whole idea of calling and what the notion of that means. I thought maybe I’d start writing some of these thoughts on the blog every now and then. I would love to hear your own thoughts, your own stories or notions of calling.
Yes, we claim that we are all called–each and every one of us. I don’t know about you, but I probably put that in almost every sermon or lesson that I put together. But do we truly believe that God has called us? What does that mean? Does it give us permission to just, then, continue down the road we’re on, thinking that that is where God plunked us down so surely that is where God called us to be? And here’s one for you: Is it a calling simply because God envisions it? In other words, what happens to a calling that, for want of a better word, falls on deaf ears? Is it still a calling? What happens to that vision that God has for us if we never stop and open ourselves enough to see exactly what it is? What happens to God’s calling for me if I’ve already figured out what my life is about? What am I supposed to be?
I think all of us ask ourselves those questions. But, do you think there is something that you’re “supposed” to be? Well, I suppose it would be easier if God had simply set us on the right road and just told us to walk down the line in the middle, never veering, never turning, perhaps just stopping for rest every seven days or so. Then we could all walk forward, perfectly aligned, like a bunch of good little Stepford soldiers marching to wherever God led us. OK, so all we’d have to do is stay on the line, right? Just keep moving. Really? I know there are those who claim that kind of “right and wrong”, “righteous and evil” theology but I personally don’t think that’s exactly how it works.
After all, remember what the all-powerful God did in creating us. This all-powerful being gave away part of the Godself, relinquished part of what made God omnipotent. God made a world and filled it with abundance. And then God made us, images, however shadowy, of the very Godself that created us. And God took a piece of the power that God held and gave it away. It’s called free will. All of a sudden, this great Creator was no longer omnipotent. God can do everything–everything, that is, except make us choose. And, really, if you were God (or, for that matter, even if you were you), wouldn’t you rather someone choose to love you, choose to be with you, choose to be who you envisioned them to be?
So, I guess that straight line down the middle of the road has sort of faded away (or maybe it was never there in the first place!). Maybe that was the whole idea. Maybe we weren’t called to see the road at all but rather to see the abundance through which it takes us. Maybe that is the way we choose to love, choose to be with God, choose to love God.
And back to the other question: Is it a calling if we do nothing? Or does God’s calling to us come to be in our response? First and foremost, God calls us into holiness, into that sacred mystery that is God. God calls us to know the Godself, to know the very image of God in which we were created, to know the very best self that we can be. But, more specifically, God calls each of us in unique ways. God calls us to use our gifts, our talents, our individual circumstances, the persons in our life, to live that calling and become who God calls us to be. God can do all things–all things, that is, except respond. Look around. Look at the incredible abundance that God has poured into your life. What is your response?
Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about—quite apart from what I would like it to be about—or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions…Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. (Parker Palmer, in Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, 4.)
Grace and Peace,