I recently began rereading the book of the prophet Jeremiah. This book has been important in my development as a follower of Christ. The story of the prophet Jeremiah is interesting for a variety of reasons. The foremost of which is that for many his ministry may be described as a failure. And if that seems too harsh, we could say it was marked by lack of change among the people to whom he was sent. Jeremiah has been oftentimes given the moniker of “the weeping prophet”.
It seems odd that within the pages of Scripture we can read the story of the ministry of a man who was not able to elicit much noticeable change in the people whom he served. I find some comfort in knowing that faithful ministry will not necessarily lead to “successful” ministry. How we define what success really is can be a moving target. Therefore it becomes critical for us not to make a habit of comparing what God has called us to do with what others are doing.
This is at the center of our word focus for today. What does it mean to have a call on your life? The question itself is rife with nuance and even ambiguity. For me, the challenge is discerning what it means for God to use me in the greater scheme of his purposes, both in my life and in the world.
I find some comfort in knowing that faithful ministry will not necessarily lead to “successful” ministry.Tweet
It is worth the effort to try to define this idea of calling. The simplest way I believe to do so is to acknowledge it is an internal acceptance of our surrender to God’s will. Not to some specific task or to a particular mission, but in the sense of surrendering our own pursuits for the labors God will place in our hands. This is what it means to be called in my mind. That we no longer are striving to make a way according to our desires or preferences. Rather we are making an intentional effort to seek the mind of God for how we should conduct our lives.
To shift from a focus on our own ideas of what a meaningful life would be to accepting the journey God places us on gets us closer to what I believe a call is. It is difficult to be too specific because each person is unique. The gifts and passions and talents any individual person brings and offers to God are as varied as the number of people who have ever walked the face of the earth. And it is in this variety of human expression that some feel a particular drawing to participate in the completing (in the sense of being ambassadors of the kingdom) of God’s will. Not that any energy of hours is necessary or requisite to the work being done, but that we are willing to give of ourselves to be instruments in the hand of God.
This may seem to some a foolish way of engaging with God. And the sentiment is to be expected. To surrender our own desires and plans in order to serve a God we have never seen will appear quite foolish to some of those around us. But in our circle of influence, there will be those who recognize the irresistible drawing of God’s love and grace. And in this drawing away from the opportunities the world around us would provide there are many who find a deeper sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in the work God calls them to.
A calling can be difficult to define, or even to describe. But it is evident in those who have been called by their inability to let go of that impulse to forsake all other things in life and to give our gifts and talents to the work of God.
In the season of Lent, we too are being called. We all are being offered an opportunity to forsake the enticements of the world for a time. It is not a complete abandonment of the world in which we live. It is a momentary pause and intentional refraining from allowing ourselves to be engulfed by the multitudinous opportunities available to us.
I invite you to consider this time of Lent as a special call from God to look at the world around you and consider what in it may be drawing too much of your attention away from him. And then to take a moment to embrace the reality that God desires to have a deeper and abiding relationship with you. If this is something you desire, something you have wondered about but have been unable to determine how to access, I would say to make that desire to grow closer to God the primary focus of this season of reflection.
It’s never too late to start.