What does God want from me? What am I supposed to do now? What if I screw up THE PLAN? What if I have screwed it up already and don’t even know it yet?
Sound familiar? The minute it dawns on us that there is a redemptive, eternal story unfolding from heaven, and that it includes us, the questions come rumbling in.
Calling is tricky—there are tons of viewpoints on it.* Here’s where I have landed.
1. Calling is first and foremost a personal, spiritual response to the gospel.
God’s big plan is mainly concerned with salvation. He’ll be calling people to Himself until Jesus comes back, and if we miss this piece of the pie, nothing else matters. Who cares if you’ve married the right person or landed the perfect job if your eternity is on the line? Our first taste of God’s call is into His kingdom.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
2. Calling is then obeying what we’ve been told to do through Scripture.
You can depend on this: if God said to do something (like make disciples, love one another, and seek His kingdom above everything else), it’s part of His plan for your life. He won’t contradict Himself because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
3. Calling is unique but not complicated.
The best explanation I’ve ever heard on our individual life trajectory stuff is that it’s like marriage. Don’t spend all of your time stressing about finding the one person in the entire world who is meant for you. Find someone who qualifies according to the Word, and if there are no big fat doors shutting, go for it! Once you’re married, you can be 100% sure that you’re married to the right person. Wherever you find yourself, be all there. Trust that the Lord wants to use you in this time and in this place to accomplish something big. Of course there are instances of major life changes in Scripture, but every single one of those is super clear: Abram followed God to a new country, Noah built a boat with specific dimensions, Jonah ran the opposite way (because he knew exactly what was being asking of him), and Paul was sent out by a group of believers to be a church planter. You don’t see these guys losing sleep about whether or not they’d really been told to do something. God is big enough to make Himself understood.
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
(1 Corinthians 7:17)
4. Calling isn’t something to be puffed up about.
It would be ridiculous to go around bragging on how many toes you have. You didn’t choose the perfect number of lower phalanges on your birthday. You deal with the hand (or foot) you’re given. Likewise, our calling is given to us by God, determined much too long ago for us to take any kind of credit for. We are only asked to be humble in accepting it and faithful in carrying it out.
[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…
(2 Timothy 1:9)
5. Calling produces great hope.
Knowing that the One who created it all has a plan meant just for you, and that you’re not big enough to mess it up, is a comfy chair to sink deeply into. Just rest in that. You are loved by a good Father, and He has good plans for and gives good gifts to His children. In the end, everything comes down to Him: His power, His ability, His story. He’s never failed, and He won’t start now.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
Think about a bouquet of fresh flowers. They don’t go crazy trying to be more flowery or stress about whether they’re doing it right or blooming on the best day or taking in enough water to be as pretty as “that” flower. They just…be. Their simple willingness to just be flowers makes God happy. They’re fulfilling their intended purpose not by trying or by freaking out, but by quietly letting nature do its work in them. I think you can make the application.
*If you’re interested in further study, a few books on my to-read list dealing with different views on the topic include Just Do Something (DeYoung), Decision Making and the Will of God (Friesen), and Found: God’s Will (MacArthur).