4.24.2006

Thoughts on Calling - Five

"The unex - amined life," said Soc - rates, "is not worth living." However, too many autopsies can bleed us to death. The problem with self-examination is potential paralysis. It's hard to enjoy the sunset when you're fixated on the mirror.

So I continue my ruminations on calling with trepidation. I desperately want to be on the right path, but if I think too hard about it, I'll never move forward. Besides, can we ever really know, without a doubt, that we're on the right path? Perhaps it's enough that we're aimed in the general direction. After all, the father of the faith didn't have all the details before he pulled up stakes.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8 NIV).

What?! He "went... not knowing where he was going"? This grates against everything I am. I abhor agenda-less meetings and rudder-less vacations. I need maps and blueprints and timetables. This faith stuff is taxing for a control freak like me.

But I'm beginning to wonder if faith isn't the heartbeat of calling.

Blaise Pascal, in his delightful collection of musings entitled Pensées , suggested that God is both hidden and revealed. "If there were no obscurity," Pascal says, "man would not feel his corruption: if there were no light, man could not hope for a cure." So God reveals enough of Himself to make faith reasonable, but not so much of Himself, that faith is unnecessary.

I wonder if the same isn't true about calling -- it's both hidden and revealed. God blesses us with individual talents and giftings, hunches and impulses that steer and shape us. But He won't force us to use those gifts and follow those hunches. In fact, we may bury the talent if we so choose. In other words, God points us in the general direction, but He won't drag us along the path. It reminds me of the oft-quoted Scripture:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 WEB)

Isn't that what a call is? Literally? It's a Voice beck - oning to us from the other side; it's a knock on the door of our heart. Jesus could easily blow the door off its hinges; nevertheless, He stands, like a gentleman, and knocks. Why?

Because a call is incomplete without an answer.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!' (Isaiah 6:8).

"I heard... I said." A call. An answer.

But here I am, scalpel in hand, waiting for more. It's not enough that I hear the Voice or the Knock. I need a blueprint or a map, a telescope to see down the road and a safety net to catch me if I fall. Meanwhile, I'm bleeding myself to death through introspection. Maybe God's given me everything I need to know about my calling. Now He's simply waiting for my response. And herein lies the problem, because the next step is the one I fear the most -- the step of faith.

Still thinking...

8 comments:

Elaina Avalos said...

This couldn't be more timely for me, Mike. The Parable of the Talents is something I've meditated on quite a bit in relation to this subject. If we apply it directly to gifts and abilities as opposed to financial stewardship, all of the same principles apply. If I take what He's given me and "bury" it, I've wasted the resources He's provided me and wasted opportunities to honor Him through their use.

My problem? Faith. It's the one I'm worst at too. And it's the step I'm at now.

Ame said...

"I abhor agenda-less meetings and rudder-less vacations. I need maps and blueprints and timetables. This faith stuff is taxing for a control freak like me."

God loves control freaks - especially when we give all the rudders and maps and blueprints and timetables to Him and let Him tell us where to go - VERY difficult, isn't it?!

If we can't let Him hold all the maps and control all the rudders, then He has a cure if we want it . . . He can always take everything away till we have nothing left but Him . . . then we have nothing to control.

Janet Rubin said...

Shine a positive light on it,Mike. Not a scary trip, an exciting adventure. Like a parent surprizing a child with a family outing to an unknown destination, God say, "Just get in the car. You're gonna love this." You, the child, don't need access to the map, because for one thing, you don't know how to read or how to drive and for another thing, you know that the Drive is fully capable and completely trustworthy. You can back in the rear seat, gaze up at the passing clouds and light poles and make up stories, not worrying at all about where you're going.

A question: What if writing isn't your "calling" and you do it anyway? What's the worst that can happen? You write well, you want to write, so write. The ability and the desire are evidence that God has called you to write. Not only that, He saved you so that you have something to write about...

Mike Duran said...

Janet, stop interrupting my melancholy meditations with your logic. You said, "What if writing isn't your calling and you do it anyway? What's the worst that can happen?" That's kinda the point of the piece. In fact, isn't it God-honoring just to take a step of faith, not knowing what the outcome will be? Perhaps our calling is not as set in stome as we imagine; maybe God's just waiting for us to trust Him in whatever. The famous quote from Proverbs suggests some paths are not "known" until they are tread: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Prov. 3:5-6). God will make our "paths strtaight" but first we must "acknowledge Him" in all our ways. That's my problem: I wish He would make my paths straight BEFORE I acknowledge Him in all my ways. Pretty retarded, huh?

Janet Rubin said...

Yes:)

siouxsiepoet said...

i'm trying to determine the difference between blind faith and open eyed, yet unseeing, faith. there is some distinction there. the answer i keep coming up with is, i don't know. brilliant, eh?

Vicki said...

Prov. 3:5-6 is my all time favorite, btw. Can't tell you how many times I've thrown my hands up, not knowing where the heck I'm going.

Janet's point is well taken--you write well, you WANT to write, so write, eh? Sometimes it's not that simple. Or maybe I make it more complicated. Lots of people write well but feel called elsewhere. Guess I'm a melancholy type hung up on doing the will of God, hopefully furthering His agenda, rather than my own. Half the time, I don't know what I'm doing...I question my motives. Writing feels selfish, egotistical to me sometimes. But He's given us these gifts and abilities! We've GOTTA walk by faith, and not by sight--even with writing. Especially with writing! There are no guarantees that I'll make a living doing this. Maybe I should go back to nursing school, or get a degree in counseling--certainly there's more money in those professions than eeking out words every day. People think I'm weird or something:-)

Once upon a time the issue of my "calling" was settled, a done deal. But if I take my eyes of God's writing path for me, and measure myself against the so-called success of other writers, well...the waves start rocking my boat.

Vicki said...

meant to say "But if I take my eyes OFF God's writing path for me..."

Brain dead at 1 am. My day is done. Catch ya later...