I marvel at those who can confidently identify their calling and describe when and how they received it. I’m sure I gaze into their dazzling certainty like a deer in the headlights. I’m inching toward my sixth decade and have yet to Sherlock my way through the mysteries of my calling. It eludes me. My quest to unearth it has frustrated the liver out of me.
In my twenties, I was convinced I was called to be a pastor’s wife. Apparently, the call was a wrong number because the pastor no longer needed a wife nor wanted the pulpit.
After several years of single parenting I felt a call to missions so early into my third decade I followed that call. I quit my job with the two-hour commute, sold my home and its entire contents, packed up three mini-me missionaries and rode Anticipation all the way to Montana. After completing the prerequisite training for the proffered position that call was abruptly disconnected and I was left with a certificate, a dial tone and no Plan B.
Bless me, a new call began ringing off the hook! Remarriage. I decided my bungled mission quest was actually a God-orchestrated detour to my true calling–Mrs. Farmer. I threw myself into that calling: wife, mother, homemaker, grower of our food, baker of our bread and volunteer of every para-church opportunity that presented itself.
Years eased into decades. My forties brought an empty nest, grandchildren and an inability to answer the oft-asked question: “So, what do you do?” I was busy but I couldn’t summarize what it was I did. I became discouraged by a sense of undefined purpose.
My call remained undefined in my fifth decade as well. While friends were reinventing themselves with post-childrearing calls my call was still undiagnosed. I began entertaining the notion that I was too flawed, too old, too a-lot-of-things for God to waste a call on me. I struggled with the fear of having wasted my life with nothing significant to show for His kingdom. Depression set in.
Through the years I had investigated, attended and participated in training opportunities, workshops, conferences and events trying to discern my calling. No heavenly marquees lit up—no tweets or IMs from God either. I decided I must have squandered my call somewhere along the way.
If formal callings were steak and lobster, my calling, if I had one, was more like goulash and saltines.
Is anyone relating to this?
I’m not a calling basher and I’m definitely not debating the scriptural foundation for the way we endorse calling today. It’s no longer important to me to nail it down. I got off that hamster wheel and prayerfully began reframing my understanding of calling.
There had to be a simpler way to follow Jesus!
So here’s what I’ve concluded about my calling:
- I wasted too many years looking and waiting for it.
- I assumed calling came with a title and recognition—that it was measurable.
- I thought calling needed a platform, a website, a following or a brand.
- I believed calling would validate me as a worthy card-carrying follower/servant of Christ.
- And sadly, I thought one’s calling indicated God’s seal of approval.
Calling is simply an invitation, by the Giver of unmerited and irrevocable grace, to live life in His name and for His glory. Calling means I live my each and every moment yielded and available to Him. Calling is a directive to lay down my life and agenda to pick up His.
Calling is my welcome into an intimate relationship with the lover of my soul.
For the majority of Jesus-followers, calling is simple, informal and title-less.
I now say with tongue in cheek, I’ve been called to the Ministry of Availability. I’m here when He needs me! My part is to know God and make Him known. It’s God’s job to determine how He wants to choreograph our dance. I might bring home a young woman involved in prostitution. I may take meals to a weary mommy. I may pay for the groceries of the disadvantaged person in front of me or I might scrub the dead skin off the feet of a woman confined to bed.
The greatest fruit of my calling on any given day might simply be to pray for someone who not only won’t hear me but who will never know that I brought them before the throne of God.
Our lives beg to be acknowledged, our contribution recognized and our value affirmed.
We might prefer to be a prized flower in a vase displayed for others to appreciate than to be a wildflower whose blossom is seen and enjoyed by God.
I’ve come to understand that those who have answered God’s call–the invitation to join His family and be part of His purpose–do indeed have a calling. Whether we’re in the mission field or in the laundry room, Jesus Christ himself acknowledges us, recognizes our contribution and affirms our purpose.
Whether you lead people through a Red Sea or through a crowded room, it all matters to Jesus. Everything done in His name coalesces into His glorious will and grand purpose.
His call on our lives is not hidden in the middle of some congested set of vague hints or in a complex formula for success.
Calling is about Him, not about me!