I have struggled with the idea of “calling” for a long time. “Calling” was a rather mysterious thing to me. People seemed to be “called” in the Bible very specifically and almost easily. God shows up, gives a dramatic life calling with some specific instructions and promises, and then crazy things happen. Abraham, Isaac, Moses and David, it seemed to have happen over and over again in the Bible. Sure there was some huge time jumps sometimes between God speaking and when it actually came to pass, but it was always dramatic and exciting right?
I always heard people say “I felt called to go”. What does that even mean? How does that happen? It seemed to me everyone else heard the voice of the Lord clearly and with certainty except me. Calling, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it was a complex formula of hearing the voice of the Lord, lightning coming down out of the sky, said word being confirmed, some great revelation during a time of corporate worship.
I wanted to know what God had for me. I cried out for it. I prayed. I strained to hear Him in the silence. I laid down my future over and over again to Him, hoping for some sign or guidance of what direction to turn to. All I wanted was this mysterious feeling of sureness, of certainty that I had heard Him rightly and was doing the will of God. I was so wrapped up in my fear of missing God that I was frozen, petrified of letting down myself and God. And that was the problem. I knew, I knew, there is no fear in love. So why was I experiencing this anxiety and fear about my future?
When Jesus was asked, “Teacher, what is the most important commandment? What is the most important thing I need to know about living my life?” Jesus responded with “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40)
This, to Jesus, was the most important. He never said anything about calling, or making sure you didn’t miss God. He said the most fulfilling, amazing thing you can possibly do with your life is to love me and love the people around you. You want to know what to do? Love me with everything you got. And look to the person beside you, and love them the same way.
I realized the things that made me me, the uniqueness and quirkiness and passions inside me, weren’t just random. They were placed there by God. Did justice, new cultures, adventure and living life in community make my heart come alive? I was wired that way! If the idea spending six months pursuing God in the nations and helping point others to him activates some part of my heart, that's God! We love because He is first loved us. If we feel drawn, it is because He is drawing us. I didn’t need to “feel called”, He has already sent out the call. If what I am doing is loving God and loving people, then I can rest I am in His will. The anxiety and fear that “I will miss God” fades away.
And as I look back on the Bible, on Abraham, Moses or David, I realized that things were perhaps more uncertain than I was giving them credit for. They still had to live the life that unfolded in front of them. Even with what looked like a strong and audible word of the Lord, it didn’t mean there weren't many times of uncertainty, of fear of the unknown, of not knowing what God was doing through the years and years of waiting. I realized wanting this “call” was in some way a method to try to deflect uncertainty. But I didn’t realized that with giving up uncertainty means giving up faith. If you already know, why would you need to believe and trust for something you can already see?
God is real. He speaks. He is a personal God. But I let go of my need to hold on to something with certainty. I surrendered my need to “know”. I wanted something obvious and definitive, words that sounds cool when people asked, a flashpoint of “calling”. But God was there all the time, drawing me into His purposes. I don’t need to feel called to go, I just need to pursue Him and be who He created me to be. And all the rest is just details that I trust Him for.
Are you interested in going to Norway for three-months to join with a community of people passionate for Jesus to learn about God and then go to the nations on short-term mission trip? Then you should think about doing a Discipleship Training School (DTS). You never know where it might take you!