Saturday, February 11, 2017

Call me maybe?

I have a young friend who spent several years painting houses part-time as he awaited “his calling,” as if anticipating a box delivered by Federal Express. 

In today’s culture, a calling implies the discovery of one’s dream job where happiness, success and fun are rolled into one.  It is one’s destiny, an exclusive place of significance, purpose, and natural ability.  It is where one’s dreams come true, like winning the career lottery. 

That’s not quite what Moses experienced when he was called by God.  “You want me to do WHAT????” he said to God.  “You have the wrong man.”

It was not what Jonah had in mind when he was supposed to move to Nineveh.  “Are You kidding me?”

Thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold as a slave in a foreign country was not on Joseph’s radar.

Marching around Jericho seemed a bit farfetched to Joshua.  But he did it anyway.

I was recently invited to a national conference on “Finding Your Calling,” promising the key to God’s special job designed just for you, as if suddenly in a mystic moment one’s purpose is authorized and stamped with God’s seal of approval. 

But the real quest is not “What am I supposed to do?” but “Who am I supposed to be?”  In a Biblical sense, one’s calling  is not to be a graphic designer or a plumber, but:

Called to be faithful.
Called to righteousness.
Called to serve.
Called to love God and others.
Called to be peacemakers.
Called to praise Him.
Called as ambassadors for Christ.
Called to excellence in all we do.
Called to “Follow Me.”
Called to fear not.
Called according to His purpose.
Called to abide in Him.
Called to do justice, to love kindness,
           and walk humbly with God.
Called to glorify God.

I am called to all these things (and more), no matter where and no matter what. 

My job is not the calling; it is just the vehicle.  I have no clue His higher purpose in this.  I just know that there always is.   I may have an affinity for accounting, I may be gifted at teaching or preaching or swimming.  God may use that platform, or He may work something deeper around it.  Consider yourself called.

“We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere,” says Os Guiness in his book The Call.  “We are called to Someone.  We are not called first to special work but to God.”

God changes my heart and my vision for the work He places before me.  That is why it was no more spiritual for William Wilberforce to abolish slavery in the British Empire than it was for Brother Lawrence to wash dishes for three decades.  God placed them strategically where they needed to be to know Him more and manifest His glory.

But what if this job is not what I want to do, and “not my gift?”  Good, God says, that way My power will be revealed in your weakness.  When my husband and I moved to Memphis and joined Fellowship Memphis, a church-plant at that time, we were assigned to teach Sunday school for kindergarten to sixth grade – all the children collectively in one 8 x 8 room.  It was definitely not in our skill set, not what we had in mind, and definitely not to what we felt called.  But there was a need.  And we were there.  We taught for almost two years.

In all situations, there will always be someone better qualified.  But God chose you to be faithful in that difficult situation.  God chose you to express His grace among those irate customers and grumbling co-workers.  More than the task at hand, God calls each of us to be His own.  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43.1)   

Call me maybe?  No, He calls me every day to be faithful to the tasks and people He has put on my path, and I call on Him how to navigate the big rocks on my schedule and the unexpected speedbumps that are always for His glory.   In His agenda, there are no detours, glitches, or interruptions.

My grandmother taught piano lessons for almost 40 years.  At the top of her practice sheets, she had printed, “It’s not what you play.  It’s how you play it.”  Faithfully and with grace. 

First called to Him, and then His purposes revealed to the world in ways beyond what we can imagine. 

Called?  It’s who I am.

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