I struggle with the word “calling.” It’s one of those loaded words from my conservative, Evangelical days. In those days, it was used as a club. If God calls you, you’d better go! Otherwise, you will be out of God’s will. With each word came another blow to the head. In my college days, we threw around a phrase something like, “God, please don’t call me to Africa!” Though maybe said with a bit of mirth, it was a completely serious plea. As if God would call us somewhere, to do something, that wasn’t already within us. The message went something like this: My sin nature is so strong, it makes me want to go my own way. So, God makes me do hard things because God has to teach me and discipline me. And these “hard things” will certainly involve some level of misery. That way of thinking was so ingrained in me! When I finally got below this thick layer of untruth, I saw it for what it was. Bullshit. God doesn’t punish me with my calling. God invites me to it. It’s an invitation to return.
To be called is to go home. It’s like hearing my mom’s voice calling to me through the hot summer nights in Chicago, just as the sun set and the lightning bugs emerged. She called to me to come home. I could be a block away, and faintly hear her call, or in my own backyard. Either way, I had to make it through the dark, sometimes trembling with fear, to get home. But where else would I go? It was home. It was where I was meant to be.
It’s the same with calling. Sometimes we have to make our way through the dark, whatever that might be for us (which is different than being sent to Africa, by the way). Sometimes we don’t yet recognize the voice that is calling us. But our calling is something we live into, something that has been in us and with us all along. My daughter is in third grade, and her teacher always says that she believes that kids really know who they are in third grade, they know their “calling”, so to speak. This “knowing” may go underground for awhile, it might germinate, or it might die. But those who pay attention, listen and hold still, will find that knowing again. Sometimes we find our way home, sometimes we don’t. But our calling, like the sound of my mom’s voice on hot summer nights, always leads us back to God, who is our home.
Jeana Pynes is the Pastor of Family and Children’s Soul Care at Highlands Church, Denver. She loves to find creative ways to engage both kids and adults in beauty and meaningful experiences, and her passion for writing is one of the ways she accomplishes this. Jeana is a graduate of the University of Denver and holds a Master’s degree in Biblical Counseling.