I think the topic of ‘calling’ has caused many Christians grief over the years. Regardless of where you are in life, it’s likely you’ve thought about your personal calling and purpose at some stage.
Whether you reached a point where you had no idea where you are supposed to go next or, like me, a stage where you find yourself pondering over alternative paths, I’m sure you can agree these uncertain times can be difficult.
Often, the hardest part of deciphering our personal calling is the lack of assurance in the final ‘destination’. If only God would show us the outcome of each path, if only He would speak to us clearly and distinctly, our decision would be so much easier.
But, you see, what I’ve come to realise is that often God doesn’t give us a view of the final destination, nor a comprehensive set of directions to it. He often only gives us the next turn.
Instead of showing us where the path leads, He shows us where to step next.
A friend recently shared a unique and insightful interpretation of the famous verse found in Psalm 119:
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119, verse 105).
If you think about it, she said, the lamps in those days were only strong enough to illuminate a small area around the holder. Only showing them their very immediate surroundings, nothing more. In the age of torches, lack of clarity and foresight can be hard.
But yet, that’s often what happens when it comes to God leading us to our calling. He doesn’t give us a torch, but a lamp. Enough to illuminate our next step, but not enough to show us the final destination, or where the path leads.
An exercise of faith of trust
But why? Why does God allow us to suffer through the uncertainty and anxiety?
Well, I think it is an exercise of faith of trust. Without complete knowledge of what lies ahead, we have to put our faith and trust in God with each step. We have to surrender complete control to God if we are to have peace.
This works in our favour because, as I’ve mentioned before, only when we surrender completely over to God, can we discover the fullest life Jesus came to offer.
Also, I don’t think a ‘destination’ exists when it comes to our ‘calling’. Whilst I have used the word for ease of understanding, to me there isn’t a definite point, at least in this life, where you have reached the fullness of God’s calling on your life. Rather, I think God’s plans for us are continually evolving and developing.
Not becoming fixated on a destination allows us to be flexible, Spirit led and spontaneous. It gives us freedom to enjoy the journey, the path of discovery, and the process of personal growth.
No ‘wrong’ choices
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. (Romans chapter 8, verse 28)
Much of the agony in deciphering our calling comes from the fear that we may make the wrong choice, choose the wrong degree or take up the wrong job and it will disqualify us or prevent God’s best plan for us coming to fruition.
How comforting then to know that God is capable of ‘re-routing’? To know that if our intentions are to glorify Him and to carry out His plans for our lives, He will take any decision we make and use it for good? What this verse says to us is: provided your heart is in the right place, there is no wrong choice.
If your intention is to glorify God with your life, you simply cannot choose the wrong degree, nor can you choose the wrong job, because God will use any decision you make for good.
If you have no idea what your calling may be, sometimes it’s simpler than we make it out to be.
God created us with our desires and our passions for a specific purpose. Often the first move to realising our calling is taking a step in the direction those interests. Don’t become overwhelmed with worry, questioning where it may lead – take a step-in faith.
If you love writing, write and post it to a blog. If you love singing, sing whenever and however you can. Take any opportunity that comes your way to satisfy your passions and use your giftings. Before you know it, you will begin to gain clarity and God may just open doors in areas you never expected.
If you are weighing up multiple alternatives, I think the best you can do is pray. Pray that God will bring clarity and discernment. Then, make a decision, choose a path comforted by the knowledge that there isn’t a wrong choice.
Regardless, I think that once Romans chapter 8, verse 28 really sinks in, once we take away the fear there is a wrong move to make, the journey becomes a whole lot more exciting than scary.
The creator of the universe has made you just the way you are for a specific purpose, to fulfil a specific role in His Kingdom that nobody else but you can do.
I don’t know about you, but that is exciting news.
Matthew Thornton is studying at the University of Auckland, Matthew finds that writing is one of the prime ways he connects with and grows closer to God. He loves seeing the way in which God has wired everyone uniquely and finds immense fulfilment in seeing others discover who God is to them. He would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org