I must admit I’m occasionally jealous of Samuel. As a young boy, he heard God’s call so clearly that it woke him up. Over and over, God spoke his name, “Samuel! Samuel!” until Samuel finally recognized God’s voice and responded, “Speak, your servant is listening.” In that moment, God revealed part of his will to Samuel. He didn’t give him all the details, but he sketched out his plan pretty clearly.
Wouldn’t it be nice, I’ve wondered at times, to hear “Kelli! Kelli!” and to know it was the call of God? To receive, in clear terms, his words for me? To get even just a rough sketch of his plan?
Do you, like me, ever wish God delivered a calling so direct that it woke you up out of your everyday routine and laid out your next steps in no uncertain terms?
Alas, for most of us, we instead discern our calling in fits and starts. Along the way, we may have occasional moments of Gideon-like confirmation balanced out by countless prayers for guidance and maybe even sometimes worried and raw wondering if God has a plan for us after all. What does it mean to follow God’s call when we can’t seem to hear it clearly? And how can we carve out a calling when life throws us curveballs?
In our discussion of calling in this issue of Today’s Christian Woman, we explore some of those curveballs and what it looks like to find and live within God’s call, even in moments of hurt or confusion. For example, have you ever wondered . . .
- Where is God’s call when my dream job seems elusive? You may have gifts and talents, you may know where your passions lie, and yet you feel stuck in a job that feels passionless—or maybe you don’t have a job at all. In “Finding Your Calling (Even When You Hate Your Job),” Katherine Leary Alsdorf (co-author, with Tim Keller, of Every Good Endeavor) discusses how God redeems our work in a broken world. And in “The Never-Ending Job Hunt,” Cat Knarr zeroes in on the struggle many Millennials are facing as they seek to find meaningful work, exploring how God can guide and shape us even during periods of unemployment.
- Is God calling me into some sort of ministry? Frustration with daily work in a “normal” job can easily begin to seem less important, less spiritually significant, than full-time Christian work—the work of a missionary, a pastor or ministry leader, a member of a nonprofit. Do you ever wonder if there is a “higher calling” in your life? In “The Greatest Call: Come, Follow Me,” Leslie Leyland Fields examines the theological core of what it means to be called by God—whether it’s to the mission field or to balancing accounts, waiting tables, or, in Leslie's case, cleaning fish.
- Where is God’s call when my life has become a series of diaper changes, laundry piles, and soccer games? Mom Seeks God author Julia Roller was thrown the same curveball that’s also unsettled me—and probably many of you—when it came to passion and calling. That curveball’s name? Motherhood. Becoming a mom changes everything in so many beautiful and challenging ways—but it can also leave us feeling like our calling has evaporated. When there’s no time for much beyond mothering, what do we do with our passions and spiritual yearnings? In “Called to More than Motherhood,” Julia shares spiritual insights that will help you fellow moms find your bearings.
- Could God be calling me in a different direction? If you feel like your life journey is a series of undecipherable zigzags and switchbacks that even Lewis and Clark would be hard pressed to map out, that doesn’t mean you’ve missed God’s call. Austin Channing Brown shares six critical truths about vocational calling that God’s been teaching her along the way in her article “On a Non-Traditional Path? That’s Okay.” And in “God Doesn’t Respect Job Descriptions,” Nichole Coates challenges the way our idea of calling may limit us. Rather than locking ourselves into a particular path, Nichole urges us to be wide open to serving and responding to the needs God puts before us, whatever they may be. Rather than sidetracking us from our real calling, Nichole suggests that God may be urging us to abandon our plans, respond out of our comfort zones, and find him there in our willingness to love others through compassionate service.
The truth is that, for most of us, God doesn’t reveal his calling in a late-night Tabernacle moment of clarity. For most of us, instead, God invites us into a journey that prods us into frightening degrees of trust and draws us away from self-reliance. Even those moments of desperate wondering or soul-weary discouragement serve their purpose when they draw us to our knees in surrender to his sovereign will. As we seek God’s calling, we may be surprised to discover that it’s right in front of us. Like the daily bread of sustenance God provides, he also gives us his presence—and the daily, over-arching call to love him fully and share that love with those around us. In living for him, in loving like him, God christens our normal and, in his timing, makes our path straight.
Questioning Your Call?
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