Standing in the middle of a crowd before a concert, or in a crowded food-court dead certain that someone is shouting your name. Turning to your friend and nudging them – “oi can you hear someone calling me?”
A number, hastily scribbled on the side of a Starbucks cup. Inky black pen, a giggle and a soy latte for the hot guy in the Armani suit. Call me.
A marine – father of two, opens his orders. He leaves for the Middle East in a month. He’s been called up.
The kuia stands proudly on the marae atea. Moko quivering, green leaves shaking at her side. Her voice rises and falls, breaks and crescendos. Keening and wailing, she extends the spiritual rope, hauling the waka of manuhiri up the sandy shore. The karanga. A call.
Ladies smooth the wrinkles from their crinoline dresses, pinch their cheeks to highlight their blooming youth and lift their embroidery as the butler announces the heir of the neighboring estate. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that this young gentleman has come to call.
Attention passengers on flight 53679 to Dunedin. Please make your way immediately to board at Gate 17. This is your final call.
Hi Mum, just ringing to let you know we’ve had a healthy baby boy. 7 pound five. We’ve called him Liam.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
Have you found your calling?
Does anyone else remember Spelling Sentences? It was somewhat of a ritual when I was ten. Every week you would get your list of spelling words. On Monday night you would have to write them out with their definitions. On Tuesday night you would have to write a sentence with the word in context, and on Friday morning – you would be tested. 10/10 was the ticket to a successful day, and your name in the lucky star draw. Any of you kids out there who have ‘calling’ on your list can help yourself to a sentence or two from the list above. God knows I plagiarized a few of them myself (Jane Austen, and a big gruff fisherman by the name of Peter).
Does anyone else remember their final year of high school? Every single adult you met – church, family gatherings, walking down the street, your neighbor, your mum’s friend – everyone wanted to know what you were going to do with your life. It almost drove me crazy! Was I supposed to know this? Because, well (please don’t spread this around) but, I didn’t.
The Calling. It is so often associated with your job. At least, here in the West it is. finding my calling = deciding on my career? OR is it perhaps a task? A mission of sorts that you were put here on this earth to do – what if you don’t? What if you miss it? What if someone else’s mission depends on you fulfilling yours? Or vice versa – and then if one of you fails, the other one is doomed?
Some years ago I asked myself the age old question– what if I had decided to become a physiotherapist? Would I still have been on the right path? If that’s possibly right, does that mean I’m on the wrong path now? Could God have used either path to bring about good things in my life? Is one better than the other, and if so, once you’ve chosen one way, is it possible to get back to the better way? Ive heard people say that ‘God doesn’t care what you put on your toast in the morning’. I totally get where they’re coming from. But at the same time where does that logic lead you? I mean, if he doesn’t care about your breakfast spread, does he care about what sweater you choose? If he doesn’t care about that, does he care what subjects you choose at school? If he doesn’t care about that, does he care about what career you choose? If he doesn’t care about that, does he care who you marry? Where you live?
Is your brain tired just following this wild string of thoughts?
The conclusion I have come to is that most of these questions are irrelevant. Because I look at my life through the limiting perspective of time. this happened and then this. That came about because of this. and then this led to that. god doesn’t see it like that. Standing outside of the bounds of time and space, he sees my life beginning to end,choices and decisions. He knows what choices I’ll make and he has worked it into his Master plan before one of them has even happened. So, he sees and knows his ‘Call’ on my life even as I am just discovering it....Yeah I don’t really get it either. I started to think I did, and then it all exploded into mind-blowing craziness. It’s like when you have a word just on the tip of your tongue and you almost get it, and then it disappears. I have an understanding on the tip of my brain.
The following are not from any sort of dictionary, so I wouldn’t use it for your Monday night homework ( I doubt that any 10 year olds have made it this far through my post anyway, sorry guys!), but these are a few thoughts about the use of the word calling.
1. Calling in the sense of a name. Something you are endowed with, something inherent.
Actually this happened quite a lot in the Bible (like when God was creating and he called the darkness night and the light day, or when people called a place after a significant event that happened there. God has spoken names over each one of us- chosen, loved, known, created...To me this speaks of the value of every single human being. Each one designed to reflect a different part and perspective of the beautiful multifaceted character of God. Every one of us is called – inherently endowed with value simply because we are.
2. Calling in the sense of a direct clear summons. An order. Accompanied by authority to carry it out.
I think this is the possible one of the more common ideas of calling (especially in church circles). The question is: Sure, God did this for Moses, or Paul, but does he do this for every single one of us? You know what – when I look at the world around me, the way that a cell is set up, the complexities of DNA and reproduction, at the wonders of astronomy, and the incredible detail that cloaks something as simple as a centipede, I can’t believe that God would take anything for granted in our lives. I cannot believe that anything would be too small a detail for him to take notice of (I’m pretty sure he’s a peanut butter man, myself). So yes. yes God does. I’m not promising that God will use a burning bush or a blinding light It might be something as simple as a deep unshakeable desire, or a timely piece of advice from a friend. One thing is for sure – what God has planned for you will not be missed. Paul was busy murdering Christians and Moses was an exiled outcast from the royal family when God got their attention, they didn’t even WANT to fulfill his call on their life and yet they really had no choice!
3. Calling in the sense of being set apart. Chosen, standing out from the crowd.
The Bible talks about being called to be free (Ephesians 5.13), called to peace (Colossians 3.15), called to inherit a blessing (1 Peter3.9). Our ‘calling’ is found living differently –radically –and yet at the same time, in a way that makes so much sense. This is how we were made to live.
I don’t like the idea of calling as an endpoint. A conclusion that you should aim to find, to reach, to fulfill. If you asked me today whether I’ve discovered my calling I would have to say “ No, but I am discovering it”. I’m discovering it by taking one step at a time - if I continue to take the small steps that I know I need to take now, I will be ready when ‘big moments’ arrive. My direction might change – because I’m not pursuing a moment, or a career or a task of some sort, I’m pursuing God who seems to take us on funny little tiki tours that don’t make a lot of sense until we look back on them in hindsight.
I have a feeling that this blog post is going to be like one of those late night essays that sounds really awesome when you're reading over it and makes absolutely no sense when you try to read it again in the morning.
Better go now, sleep is calling.