For the last few months, I've been wrestling with the concept of a calling from God. What does it mean? What does it look like? Does everyone have one? Or is it something only certain people have? Can you have a calling if you're not in full-time ministry of some kind? Are pastors and missionaries the only ones with callings?
These haven't been easy questions to find answers for. I don't know if I have the answers to all of them yet, or if I ever will. I hear people talking about a colling in such different ways. For some it seems they would say that a calling is only something for specific people that God wants to use while they do something specific. While for others, they would say we all have a calling from God.
As I have worked through this for myself, I've found myself more likely falling into the group that believes we all have a calling from God. Romans 8:28 says, "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." To me, that speaks to each of us being called by God for something. For each of us that calling will look different. God makes each of unique - with different gifts, abilities, personalities - and tat means what we do and how we do it will look different from the other people around us.
All of us are called to serve God, but the specifics of how we do that look different for each of us. Some are called to serve in full-time ministry, as a pastor, missionary, etc. Some are called to work at a job that we dont' traditionally think of as ministry and to serve other ways. Each of us does best when we are doing what God has called us to do - not what someone else would tell us we should do.
But, what do we do when we're not completely sure what our calling looks like? We know we've been called to do something, but the details of how to do it aren't yet clear. What if they don't become clear for years? What do we do then?
Those times takes patience. We need to do what we know to do and wait for the rest to be made known to us. But, that waiting isn't a passive, sit back and do nothing, kind of waiting. We need to be using that time to do different things - to try different things that are in line with what we know of our calling. And in that process, we figure out what our calling is and learn to walk it out in our lives. This trying of different things doesn't mean we just seek to be busy, but that we make use of our time in good ways. And it also means we're not afraid to gracefully stop doing things we try that aren't what we should be doing. We don't just quit and leave people hanging, but we don't keep doing them forever either.
The process of figuring out our calling may not always be enjoyable, but it is a process that deepens our relationship with God and grows our dependence on Him. It's not always the most enjoyable process at the time, but staying the course during it is worth it, because the process and the outcome are beautiful things.
As I write this, I feel like I'm writing it to myself in many ways. Reminding myself of all the things I have learned over the last few years as I've felt like God was calling me to something, but not really knowing how if would look exactly. As I've followed what I know of it, I've discovered a clearer picture of what it may be. But, honestly, the best part has been the way it has impacted my relationship with God for the better. That alone makes the process beautiful and worth everything.