Early in my ministry career, I was speaking in a city in Western Canada and the pastor of the church I was speaking at arranged an interview with the local paper. Rather than ask is I would like to be interviewed, he simply set up the interview and told me to expect the reporter at a certain time. Since I was a bit less inclined to complain at that stage of my life, I let his rudeness go and was polite for the interview.
During the course of the interview, the reporter asked why I was doing what I was doing. I used my professional shorthand and told her that it because of my calling from God. Her lack of much in the way of faith background immediately became clear when she looked at me blankly and asked me to explain what a call was. I really can’t remember what I said to explain the concept of God’s call but in the end, everything I have done professionally and a lot of what I have done personally is a result of my belief that God has called me to do it.
Now, I don’t get emails, snail mail or phone calls from God. Nor is his call accompanied by a clear timeline and a specific set of plans and directions. And at any given time in my life, I can be extremely confused about what God is calling me to; fighting against what I know God wants me to do or begging him to change the call or at least its specific application.
But overall, I believe that one of the consequences of my accepting Jesus as Saviour and Lord is willingness to let God make decisions about what I do and where I do it. If I have really accepted Him as Lord, that involves my being willing to submit my life to him and allow him to direct me. For me, that has played out primarily in terms of my work. I believe that God has called me to make ministry my occupation. Not everyone is called to that particular career path–but all of us are called by God to serve him and follow him in all areas of life.
For me, knowing and following God’s leading has been important. It has also mean that I have not always been happy with where the call took me. In fact, many times I have been more than a bit unhappy with where the call has taken me. If I had been in charge of my life, I would have bulked up the teaching and researching and writing and basically eliminated the pastoral stuff.
But I am not in charge–or it is probably better to say that I work hard at not being in charge. Because I have chosen to make God through Christ Lord of my life, in the end, I seek to do what he wants me to do, even if I am not always happy with his leading. I am free to complain, I am free to pray (beg) for a change–I am even free to simply refuse to do what God asks of me.
But overall, I keep coming back to where God calls me, even when I am not happy. That almost sounds like I have some serious emotional or mental issues but the truth is, I learned a long time ago that while I may not always be happy with where God is calling me, it is always better for me to be where God wants me to be. Underneath the struggles and the bouts of unhappiness and even depression, there is a sense of joy and peace that comes from doing what I know God wants.
And in the end, I have also learned that giving up a certain amount of short-term happiness is well compensated for by the deep seated and long term joy and peace that comes from doing what I know God wants and being where I know God wants me to be.
So, that means that at a point in my life when I could easily be done with a career that hasn’t always been the happiest for me, I am still going. I am still going because this is where God wants me to be and I am doing what he wants me to be doing. I am sure that retirement is there somewhere down the road–but for now, I will follow the calling and enjoy the joy and peace that comes from that.
May the peace of God be with you.