For most of us, calling is difficult to discern.
Not many of us have the experience of a burning bush, taken up to heaven to sing with the seraphs, or swallowed by a large fish.
Where does God’s voice end and our own selfish desires take over? How can we be sure we’re not saying, “I really like this, so I must be called…”?
What role does comfort come in to play? Of course there are risks (more on that in a moment), but the Bible is clear: God has created us with a specific purpose in mind, we were created for good deeds, and uniquely gifted for service in the kingdom. So there is always some degree of comfort involved. For, even under extreme trial, we have the sense, “I’m doing what God wants.” Of course, there can be too much comfort…
Sometimes the call is go to a new place and learn a new thing–and this is furthest from comfort, at least in the beginning. Learning new skills and new passions never starts out easy.
Ignoring our call is disobedience, of this we can be sure. We feel guilt when we fail to follow where God is leading. So, how shall we obey?
Each call seems to involve risk, but when are we called to persevere/endure and when are we called to move on?
Success can’t really be our measure, for the wicked can prosper.
Difficulty can’t be a measure either, for this life is filled with many trials, and we will be called to endure.
Callings seem to have external confirmations, but when are those truly confirmations or self deceptions that are reinforcing our assumptions?
Calling eventually involves doubt, for when everything turns upside down, we are moved towards greater surrender. However, there is a point when the doubts can become so suffocating, debilitating, paralyzing… do these kinds of doubts reveal a new calling?
As we look for the next step, we create a criteria to discover where to leap next. When does the criteria overstep discernment and become conditions we’re unfaithfully putting upon God?
A calling isn’t so complex that discernment isn’t possible. There are some things (many things?) we will never understand… however calling doesn’t belong here. We can discover and learn our calling.
As I see it, calling isn’t much different than conviction. Maybe we ought to relabel calling with conviction to de-mystify it just enough so that we can truly move beyond impulse or opportunity. Conviction is the fruit of walking closely, humbly, with God. We need the constant renewing of our minds in order to know God’s will.
I’m not currently struggling with my call, but I have in the past. Recently, I had conversation with a person who was seeking a new call. Intersecting with their journey led to me to reflect upon my own.
Calling is personal, deeply so. I think we should be careful when telling others what their calling might be. We ought to be more careful and avoid criticizing the calling of others.
We ought to hold tight to our calling, with everything we’ve got, but be ready to let go when the time as come. Blind confidence in a conviction is idol worship, self worship. On the other end of the spectrum, failing to pursue a calling is a passionless life that dishonors God.
How about you: what’s the test you put to your calling? How do your refine your own conviction? Let us know in the comments below. How do you know you aren’t called to respond?