I’m a big believer in calling. By calling I don’t mean that feeling you get when you love something or feel drawn or brought to life by an activity. What I’m referring to is that weird, sometimes uncomfortable feeling that you are being LED.
In fact I think sometimes you don’t really want to do the thing at all. In my experience, most times this calling brushes up against my deepest fears, past hurts, and insecurities. Far more than being fun; calling requires me to step out of my comfort zone, out of my place of knowledge, experience or skill level, and work. It requires me to wade into the deep waters where my feet don’t touch and I am forced to depend on God.
I’ve also found that sometimes calling requires you to step out into the voices of criticism, accusation, and harsh judgment and learn the practice of surrender. Believe me, I want nothing more than to manage my life, to cling to some illusion of control — and calling often requires me to surrender the power I do not have, the people I cannot control, and the relationships I thought I knew.
Sometimes you are called to go through that. Unlike those fun things you enjoy doing – hobbies, if you will; calling is not an easy road. Calling is not something you get to languish in, or altogether stop in the middle of, because it’s too taxing, too messy, too risky, embarrassing or hard. You’re not allowed to quit because of your pride.
You were made with a calling no one else in the whole world has, but you.
But that doesn’t mean its going to be easy. In fact, when God has a plan for your life, chances are it’s going to be hard. And the people, places and things we cling to in this life will be tested. Many will fall away. Many will criticize your nature, your personality, your gifts and abilities as if they are a bad thing or a weakness, but God crafted them in you for His glory. You are who you are for a reason. Your weakness is so that His strength might be made known.
Each of us is hand-crafted with a purpose, buried in the fertile soil of our heart. We tend and nurture it by the way we speak to ourselves and the way we allow others to speak to us. This world is not getting any easier, but I wonder if it isn’t that you and I were born for such a time as this?
That the pebble you throw into the lake won’t make a dozen ripples as it connects with and affects everything else in it’s path?
It’s easy to look around and see people living out their purpose. Living out lives called by God to write, teach, sing, play, inspire, counsel, mentor, heal, and love. Everywhere you look, in every profession and vocation, you see people living out this dream. And we see the highlight reel. We see pretty images and status updates that capture success and achievement and we have a hard time imagining the loss. Just so you don’t think you’re doing it wrong, let me tell you plainly: When you commit to follow after God and the call He has placed on your life, there will be loss.
Does that mean we don’t go? That we don’t choose to believe that the glory will be so much greater than losing what we never even had to begin with? I’ll just tell you again plainly: You keep going.
Loss will come, but so will life.
As we commit to follow Him it’s so easy to wonder: where do I fit in? The world already has all these amazing voices, what does mine matter? Who am I? What can I give that isn’t already being done, said, or lived out so much better than I could do? And that, my friend, is a lie.
That is the voice of perfection, insecurity, shame and unworthiness. The same loud-mouth voices that get in front of our gifts and try to make us stop. Who are you NOT to be, live, dance, sing, write, speak, love?
Ephesians 4:1 tells us: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” If I’m honest, I struggle to understand what that means. We have these regular lives we have to somehow live too. As wives, moms, daughters, homemakers, breadwinners, caregivers, friends — where does this fit? How do we make ourselves worthy of the calling when there is just so much to do and time feels short? I won’t pretend that I have the answer. I won’t lie and offer you a checklist on how you can live a balanced life because that would be a joke. I don’t know how to balance it all.
But I do know that living our lives committed to the calling He has placed on us requires sacrifice. Sacrifice of our old self and sinful ways, but also sacrifice of some really good things that we love.
As I have been walking out my faith – following God where He leads – I have noticed a necessary falling away from the things of this world. He is changing me. Changing not only the things I love, but the desires of my heart. Where I once craved the mindless numbing of a television show, I now crave the deep introspection of a good book. Where I once craved the company of a group, I now savor the solitude of silence or the deep intimacy of a trusted friend. In my quest to draw closer to Him, He is drawing nearer to me and in the most beautiful, humbling, miraculous ways, He is making me new.
Maybe you struggle with your calling and how to follow it well or fit it into your daily life. Perhaps you wonder if you’re meant to continue on your journey after a setback, struggle, criticism or strife. Maybe you worry that there’s not enough time, or it’s not the right time, or that in time you will see things more clearly. We all struggle with the same questions. Who am I and how do I do this well? They’re hard questions.
Dr. Seuss said: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” If your calling brings you into situations that are out of your comfort zone and beyond your realm of understanding, know this: it is not an accident. God put you right where you are for a reason and there is a purpose for your life. You can ignore it and walk away or you can let it teach you who you are. Following God and your calling will never be the easy path. But it will always be worth it.
How has following God led you through hard things? — How has it been worth it?