Called.

It is really hard not to use Christianese, terminology and phrasing specific to the Christian culture, when you have been running in Christian circles for so long. The only word I know for what I want to communicate is the concept of being “called�. Being called is what one is called to do and be by God, kind of your purpose and reason for being. Come to think of it, the term ‘calling’ is not unknown to the post-Christian culture. I have heard it used by people in non-profits and social work as a reason for doing what they do. Still, when I think of the term ‘calling’ I think of a concept that is very religious or spiritual in nature, if not specifically Christian, that many do not understand.

All that is not the reason for this post though, other then to say that I have been thinking about God’s ‘call’ on my life. What is the reason and purpose for me being here? This is a question that I feel I can answer with some level of confidence, yet I never do when posed the question. See, I think that I have a pretty good bead on the work that God has for me to do in His kingdom, it is just that I feel so far away from that person that I need to be to in order to do what I am ‘called’ to that I do not think I am that person yet.

This was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms yesterday, and it pissed me off. I am more mad at myself then anything else. What am I waiting for? I have known for some years the direction my life needs to go to fulfill this ‘call’ on my life, but yet I hesitate to commit myself to this path.

The answer is fear I am afraid :). I have a huge fear of failure and of not being accepted that in some ways it has kept me chained to a place in my life that I do not want to be. Maybe you do not know what is like to be scared into inaction. It does not feel so much like fear I think, rather you feel numb and tired. It is kind of like a bug bite, you do not feel the bite so much as the itch that is your body’s response to it.

When I think of the task before me, I would rather sleep or watch movie or something, anything other then what I must do. It is almost a paralyzing way of interacting with the world but I have been able to get by pretty well none-the-less. Did I mention hating just getting by. I am not without hope though, it is impossible for me to believe that God has put this ‘call’ in my life and not also started me down the road of change necessary to become a person that can fulfill that ‘call’.

In truth I do not really ever want to feel like I am qualified for my ‘calling’ because in that I can see a sense of security and superiority that leads to complacency and self-dependence. The tension between my inability and the service I am ‘called’ to is the, potentially, perfect recipe for dependence on God and His sufficiency… but that is another story for another day.

So, what am I ‘called’ to? You know that when you speak something forth, it takes a certain unexplainable hold on reality. It is the nature of being created in the image of God that our words have the power to created or destroy, and am just not ready to create or destroy this ‘calling’ yet. So I will do something uncharacteristic and hold my tongue on this question.

Two blogs that have got me thinking about preparedness vs. God sufficiency:

Judy by Gordon Atkinson at Real Live Preacher

“You know about that deacon thing, how I was nominated and all?�
“Yeah.�
“Well, I was gonna say ‘No.’ I thought about it a lot, and I decided that I just wasn’t worthy of something like that. I mean, I just finally stopped smoking, and I still cuss sometimes. I’m trying to do better with that.â€?
I opened my mouth to say something, but she continued before I could get a word out.
“But then I read your book.” She began to smile. “And I thought, dang, if this guy can be the PASTOR of the church, surely I could be a deacon or something.â€?

Legalism by any other name is… by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed

Instead of using “legalism,” which has become a bogey word for bogey opponents for each of us, why not shift this term to “covenant path markers” so we can get a fresh start on a genuinely serious problem we all face?

Here’s what covenant path markers do (and now I begin to extrapolate from Holmen’s study): first, they quantify covenant faithfulness into behavior that can be measured and seen; second, they enable us to “judge ourselves” on whether or not we are faithful; and third, they enable us to judge others on whether or not the others are faithful.

Legalism, aka covenant path marking, is a vicious form of life: instead of living faithfully, we are judging faithfulness. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for covenant faithfulness.)

4 thoughts on “Called.

  1. I am glad that someone else feels this way too…you described it so perfectly, the bug bite! The itch, the fear…it’s so hard to let go of our safety net and jump into something that is ultimately even safer…it’s like depending on God to supply a whole other income for me and do what it is that He is calling me to do…surely if He’s calling me, He’ll provide – where is my faith? Or…do I need to wait for all of the right things to line up the right way to be able to do that which He has called me? Or, is that just an excuse? Thanks for sharing. You are not alone.

  2. I concur with Kari – I can really identify with the fear that paralyzes you. Sometimes I wonder what incredible experiences I’ve missed out on because I was too afraid of rejection. What is encouraging is that no one is truly worthy of their calling – the greatest preachers, missionaries, evangelists, teachers, etc can not boast about their ability to perform their calling – they would probably be the first to say how unworthy they are (hopefully). God knew what He was doing when He chose the foolish and weak people of world to carry out His kingdom – all of the glory has to go to Him. Our only responsiblity is to say yes and let God equip us to do the work of the kingdom. Thanks for sharing – this was a great post!

  3. I think there is something missing here and I’m not buying it.

    Believe me, I all to well know the fear of being faced with doing something that only God can do through me. So I relate the fear aspect 100% and think that it is valid and I honor those of you who have been or are in that place.

    But first of all I think that we in the western church have greatly embraced the thinking that in our faith and nature that we exist as dichotomites. As if this “Calling” was somehow seperate from who we’ve been created to be. As if we would be moving along in our lives and then we are somehow confronted by this Calling that is outside and apart from ourselves. At our point of observation, our perspective may view this new or long existing passioned desire within us as a sudden and exterior opportunity or drive that is outside of ourselves. I content our callings are a part of our unique selves, as if it were contained within our DNA. Sure it may seem new to you and thus frightening. But I contend one’s calling is as natural as the color of your eyes. And by taking a dichotomist veiw we see this calling as an interuption or disturbance to the normality of our living. And THATS what scares us. It scares us also because we are faced with leaving a lifestyle that we have grown comfortable with and traditionally this calling usually requires for us to change. The joke in this is that we’ve been supposed to living this different life ANYWAY. Ask youself, why should this calling have to change you? Unless of course you are living at a level below that which God desires us to live anyway.

    Our focus is on the wrong thing and because were paying attention to our fear and inadequacy, we’ll never get to the bottom of it because we are looking in the wrong place.

    The focus shouldn’t be on our own fear and inadequacy. You will always have and be that before God.

    The focus should be on our trust and dependence upon God in Him growing us into maturity to be the people we were created to be. This is grace, friends. “Becoming by grace what God is by nature.”

    Think about it. How different your approach would be when confronted by a fruitioning point of your perceived “calling” if rather than looking at from a point of inadequcy at this new challenge if you looked at it from the perspective as being a people created for such a time as this?(esther 4v14). Afterall, we are God’s workmanship, created by Jesus to do the things that God had planned for us to do. (Ephesians 2v10)

    I think the bigger issue here and it is one that faces us all. Chesterton said it best here: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. Whether it be fear from a sense of low self worth or plain ole laziness. WE DO WHATEVER WE DESIRE TO DO. Until the desires of Gods heart become our desires we will continually be victims to our fear and our own self made worlds of comfort and unfulfilled good intentions.

    So in conclusion:
    We are creatures of a holistic paradox. Despite the best metaphoric attempts by theologians to explain our exisitence, we are not dichotomies.

    Fear is a protective device. We fear because we don’t trust ourselves, trust God or both. Out of the two, I would recommend trusting God. Trust that you were created to do that which you “feel called” and that this calling is not seperate from us but is us.

    Often because of the effort required, despite our best intentions, we choose to live a base faith because we are simply are not captivated by God.

    Just for the record, I am speaking of myself as much as anyone.

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