Through the Desert: Calling (part one)

calling

They gave me a month to decide.

I’ve sat across from so many Christians in my life. Stressed out or passionate about what is in store for their future. From birth we are grilled with the teaching that we were created and have life to fulfill a purpose. Often those conversations revolve around the great mystery of attempting to discover that purpose. In all reality that teaching probably causes more stress than comfort, because numerous Christians believe there is a straight line for their life and to wander off the intended path would be to disappoint their Savior. I say that because often that is the stress I’ve experienced driving many of the people I sat across from.

I’ve been there as well. I used to believe I was born to make movies. I love them. I enjoy making them. I enjoy learning about them. Who gave me those interests? Well if it was God it would seem logical that THIS was my calling. God has hard-wired me to become the next great filmmaker and so to honor God I should pursue this vocation.

I actually found my deliverance from such thinking when I found this logic wasn’t working for the women in my life. “I have such strong feelings for her! We connect so well! It must be God telling me I’m supposed to be with her.” Unfortunately it took me a few unsuccessful crushes and relationships to figure out maybe God wasn’t fueling those passions. (Or maybe he was to teach me he wasn’t!)

The older I get the more I realize I end up on this “path” by no effort of my own. This has taught me an important point about God and calling.

 

Some mysteries aren’t meant to be known. They’re meant to be experienced.
We each have been blessed with certain natural abilities and strengths. Our lives have been weaved together to bless us with differences from other people. Such diversities help us bring great beauty to our world because we are each fashioned to do certain things.

Learning and distinguishing these things can be essential into leading you towards the abundant life that Jesus so freely offers you. Because that’s the thing you should be chasing and asking for. “If Christ has offered me abundant life, what can I do do glorify that promise?”

Prior to taking a jab at answering that question for myself I spent a year out in Austin, TX learning about myself and trying to pin-point these strengths. Apparently there are tests out there that help you do that! hahaha! During my time in Austin, the Church I worked for had given us an opportunity to evaluate our strengths. To paint the picture for some future points, my top five “natural strengths” were:

1.Individualization
2.Input
3.Belief
4.Adaptability
5.Connectedness

So, according to that test I (1.) have natural strengths at finding what makes people “them” and helping them to reach higher potentials in groups and communities. I’m able to understand their perspectives apart from over generalizing the thing. (2.) I gather things that are of great interest to me and in general I find things interesting. I keep things and information because one day it could be useful to something or someone. (3.) I have core values that ground me in the midst of controversies or disruptions. This means there is often something that is driving my involvement that is rooted in one of these values. (4.) My adaptive nature suggests that I see my future as evolving. Forming one choice at a time. I live in the moment and work and understand the seasons of my life. (5.) I don’t believe things are isolated from other things. I believe there is something that unites the whole and I’m able to draw out these things and work to build bridges that bring others to see them.

All of that came from a test. But if you know me it’s pretty darn on the money. Such awareness can be very beneficial to processing one’s calling. This doesn’t mean “oh crap now I’m stuck with this one narrow career route.” It means that whichever career route I seek, I should ask if they help or hurt these strengths. Am I able to use them or will they be suppressed? You shouldn’t need a test to figure this out, but you should seek out the answers to how God has hardwired you so that you can best find outlets to serve and glorify these blessings.

Whenever people and students come to me with big decisions, there often is an assumption that this decision will decide the rest of their life. Where do I go to college? Who should I vote for? Who do I date? What if I don’t accept this job? Our future is something we all treasure, but when that treasure becomes a source of unhealth we have to strip things down to simplicity. I’ve given the same response over the years with various levels of intensity.

“Just go with the Lord.”

Should I date Amanda? You should go with the Lord.
Should I move to New York or L.A.? Go with the Lord.
Should I take the job in sales or the job with teaching? Go with the Lord.

Should I vote for Hillary or Donald? Go with the Lord.

Should I got to FSU or UF? Florida State. You should go to Florida State.

Okay fine. You should go with the Lord.

That’s the only calling. Because that was the first call. “Come, follow me.”

You think the Apostles knew all that invitation would entail? No. Because not all mysteries are meant to be figured out. They’re meant to be experienced.

I remember years back I was standing in front of an entire church preaching one of my first sermons. And the question really hit me. “How did I get here?

This is honestly what I came up with.

I’m here because when I was in high school, I moved away from my friends to a city I hated. Because while I lived in that city I went to visit those friends at a camp. Because to visit those friends I had to hitch a ride with an area south of me going to the same camp. Because I met a girl on that trip. Because I eventually moved back to Tallahassee. Because I believed that nothing good came from moving to that city. Because I went through my own season of trials and error and decided I didn’t want to lead in a Christian ministry. Because I had friends in college who attended a leadership training. Because I went to pick these friends up each week at the end of the training. Because one week at one of those meetings I ran into that girl from the trip. Because the next week I decided to go to those meetings and join her bible study. Because that rekindled something I had forgotten. Because I became a leader and was placed on a team with her. Where I began to preach to kids. Where after a year of leading I was placed in charge of this team.  Where I began to lead my own bible studies. Where I began to develop my skills of communicating the teachings of Christ. Where a pastor took notice. Where I was invited to preach to his church. Because something good came from moving to that city I hated.

Because there were life altering ripple affects. Because I was being called. Because so little of that was anything I could have ever known.

Because I stood looking back at my experience with a mystery. And none of it really amounted to any choice.

All I could do was find myself there. On that stage. Preaching.

Some years later I would be sitting in an empty office about to make a decision and an interpretation of this calling. There were many uncertainties and many sacrifices.

At the end of the day all I knew to do was face the uncertainties. Face the sacrifices.

Pick up my phone. Dial a number.

And go with the Lord.

 

*For part two of this post click here: Calling (part two)

 

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