on Christian "calling"

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
 
 
Calling.
 
Yours and mine.
 
You know the word. If you’re immersed in pop-Christian culture, then you’ve heard it before, probably even received some preaching about it from the pulpit. It certainly is the topic of many current best-sellers, Bible studies, devotionals, and self-helps all determined to aid you in your exploration toward discovering what yours is…
 
Your calling.
 
I can hardly abide the word. It makes me bristle each time I hear it used in casual word-toss amongst Christians. Not because I don’t believe in its validity—that, in fact, each one of us has a calling—but rather because of the way its intentional “push” is leaving so many of us feeling diminished. As if, somehow, we’ve missed the mark when it comes to our relationship with Jesus and just exactly what that means for us as it pertains to our doing something for the kingdom in keeping with our conferment.
 
Over and over again, I receive e-mails and comments regarding the issue; words like:
 
I’m afraid I’ll miss my calling.
How do I know what my calling is?
I know that God has called me to something, I’m just not sure what it is.
 
Words like that. And I feel the pain of those who utter such confusion, because I, too, have spoken similar uncertainty in recent years. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the issue, sweating through the issue, praying about the issue, purchasing and working through the issue via some valuable resources, all to arrive at a similar conclusion about the issue of my calling: that, apparently, I’m not there yet. That what I’m doing for Jesus doesn’t match up with what the experts are saying. That according to them, I’ve yet to really take hold of what my calling is because there remains a restlessness within my spirit. That because I don’t have clearly defined goals in place and that because my “passion and pulse” have yet to be fully determined, then I’ve got some more work to do. That if I’ll just keep reading more, practically “applying” more, jumping through spiritual hoops more, then maybe, at the end of it all, I’ll find what I’ve been longing for—God’s more for my life.
 
Oh my good friends, what a dangerous and willing slope we often stand upon when it comes to God’s “calling” upon our lives. What a tragedy to live beneath the weightiness of such burden. We’ve made God’s calling upon our lives a cumbersome yoke around our necks. We’ve made it too hard to understand, too glamorous, too glitzy, too elite to attain. We inadvertently have reserved it as something for those who are seemingly more seasoned in their walks with God—those who hold the market on righteousness and faithful living—all because we have decided that our spiritual temperature isn’t yet hot enough to warrant kingdom effectiveness.
 
Instead of feeling relieved after our careful examination of the Christian “calling,” we often conclude such contemplations feeling diminished. Less than. Under used and as having “missed the mark” when it comes to our Father’s plans for our lives. We dangerously compare ourselves to others, wondering that if somehow we could be more like them, then surely, we’d have some peace regarding the issue. But the truth is, the more closely we examine our lives in relationship to others, the more willing we become to concede our limitations and minimize our worthiness.
 
And then there we are… stuck in confusion, pained by our ponderings, and begging the Lord for clarity regarding our callings.
 
And then there, too, is God… stuck in our confusion, pained by our ponderings, and longing to bring clarity regarding our callings, because he, unlike the experts of today, has kept it pretty simple.
 
His theology isn’t weighed down by a lifetime of good study, marketable research, fads and trends and buzz words. Unlike us, God has little regard for five-step programs or carefully administered checklists when it comes to his calling upon our lives. God doesn’t need the benefit of our wisdom and our well-intentioned efforts as it pertains to helping ourselves and others determine his intentions for us. God, simply and profoundly, boils “calling” down to two words.
 
Know me.
 
That’s it, and it’s enough… at least it is for me. When I came to this realization a couple of years ago, I was freed from the burden of my “calling” as it was being purported within Christian circles. I no longer carry the struggle of having to figure mine out, because in knowing God, I know more and hold more than I will ever be able to fully administer to others in my lifetime. I don’t have to go searching for my calling and what that will look for me in the days to come. I simply have to know him more today than I did yesterday and then, out of that knowing, lead others to know the same.
 
It’s what Jesus Christ prayed for in his garden moments before his crucifixion. That we, believers in a season yet to come, would know him and his Father… intimately (John 17). That we would share in the love and knowledge of a relational God who longs to reveal himself—his character and his heart—to his children. That the overriding “passion” and boast of our hearts would not be regarding our wisdom, our strength, and our riches, but that instead our boast would be in our understanding and knowing God (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
 
And that with that being said, even more so lived, we walk in our callings. Not perfectly, but more fully as God intended. Daily stepping alongside Truth, so that with every breath we take, every thought we think, every word we speak, we do so knowing that God hovers in close proximity to our frames, making sure that we get it right. Get Him right.
 
Knowing God, and then out of that knowing, leading others to know the same.
 
This is my life calling. My freedom shout. My willingness to believe it’s just as simple and as beautifully profound as it writes and reads and sounds. May God grant me, perhaps even you, the courage to walk his depth and breadth for as long as the earthen sod tarries beneath our feet. May you know God more today than you did yesterday, and may you harbor the expectation of tomorrow’s knowing as sweet promise in your heart.
 
Knowing God. If you are headed in that direction, friends, then you are walking your calling.
 
Keep to it. Keep to the glorious revelation of our King. I’ll meet you on the road. As always…
 
Peace for the journey,

40 Responses to on Christian "calling"

  1. Oh my! You have NO idea how much this is for me today. I must go re-read it! Yesterday's devotional study (my notes) Heading: knowing God Hosea 6:6. NLT note: Knowledge of God: not about facts but about relationship–identifying with him, learning to view everything as God does. It will change yur thoughts, actions, priorities, values, and our relationship with fellow human beings. It is more important than 'religious' activities. And that wasn't the first time in recent days that I've butted my head against this.

  2. Oh my sister how right you are.

    God has been telling me lately–through Bible study and my own time with Him–that what He desires most is an intimate relationship with me. Out of that relationship He will work through me to reach those who need His salvation, healing, love, forgiveness, and the list goes on. He wants to use me to reach those who know Him and those who don't.

    But first, He wants that relationship.

    Sheryl

  3. So VERY right, dear Elaine. And it is what I long for. To know Him more and more. Bless you, sweetheart.

  4. I honestly can't tell you how blessed I have been by your posts, and how happy I am to be able to read your words of wisdom…God has so been working on my heart recently about all of these very things. To REALLY know Him has just been the cry of my heart for the last several months especially, and the result of that has most definitely been to tell others of that knowing and what it can do for them. Your remark…"Knowing God, and then out of that knowing, leading others to know the same." just sums it all up soo perfectly. I'd love to post this some where on my blog with your permission. Hope you are having a good day. HUGS AND BLESSINGS, Debbie

  5. Wow, what a powerful message for us. I feel we all continue to search for our calling as we fall short in our relationships with God and human beings. We just need to stay focused on Godly things within our lives. Get our priorities in order, and stay true to our christian beliefs. I ask that you pray for our church, and for someone to step up to teach a Bible study. We need it in our daily lives, it helps to keep us focused on God and our relationship with him. Bless you for bringing what we need to us through this blog. Love You!

  6. amen! I LOVE that verse…it is the basis for the bible study I wrote…eternal life is simply to KNOW HIM!! increasingly and as fully as He allows!! It IS the point! It IS the ride!! Thank you for sharing this, dear one…praying your strength is up today!

    hugs~ m

  7. Oh Elaine! YOU are so right. So many of us get hung up on our "calling" and ask "what am I suppose to do". You summed it up perfectly!!! To Know Him more each day!

    Blessings sweet sister!!

  8. boy, I have worn those shoes…searching too hard for "the calling" when all He wanted was for me to search for more of Him. I so agree with you here Elaine.
    Again, the spiritual depth and wisdom you bring so inspires me to be more for him. Thank you dear friend!!

    Believing Him~Pamela

    Praying peace, strength and comfort with God's covering on you daily!!!

  9. elaine – you just nailed it here my friend. i hear that question as well and you did such a great job of letting God speak through you and answer this question!

    If we know Him, yes, we are fulfilling our calling! And I long for more of my calling.. I want to know Him deeper still.

  10. You wrote these words hours ago, and now as I awake to a brand new day, they are ready for me, a good nourishing breakfast to feed the hunger of my soul. To hear such simple words, going back to the fundamental truth… to hear my God calling to me, assuring me.

    "Know me… that's all I want."

    You speak to me right in the midst of the season I am in. Well meaning friends have told me, "I'm missing out on my destiny…" and rather than encourage me, their words were like the words of Job's friend to my still grieving heart.

    So you can't imagine what kind of freedom I am feeling like now…the freedom to be myself.

    In the midst of your own pain, you are a channel of blessing to me, dear Elaine.

    Thank you. That says it all.

    Keeping you close,
    Lidj

  11. I was so blessed and encouraged with this post. It gives confirmation to what I have finally come to realize for myself: That striving to know God, and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's nudges in my daily walk, will keep me in the way that I am to go. Thank you for your timely thoughts.

  12. I headed over to say HI and am so blessed. Thank you for this post. So many have these struggles, myself included. We want to know what God has for us that we miss the best part – HIM! Blessings friend.

  13. It might be the title of your next book, Elaine… "Called to KNOW Him"…

    I so agree with what you've said here today. If we pursue God, choosing to really know Him… we not only learn who He is, but who we are in Him.

    Once again, you minister from this place in your own life, as we continue to pray for you.

    Love you!

  14. So much flows from our just "knowing God" and our desire to know Him better each day. Love the way you boil down the issue of "calling" here, Elaine. So refreshing…

  15. We have made monuments of our callings Elaine. Everything is about Jesus. Believing, knowing, and following. Without Him we can do nothing. I think we need to let that thought sink in. Hope you are resting and resting and resting while your body heals. Praying for you sweet sister. B

  16. Elaine, I absolutely loved this post. We can wander for years and miss what God has right under our nose! So glad I found your blog! Love and blessings to you…..Lori

  17. Warmest greetings Elaine:) I praise the Lord for your post, because, as you know, I have struggled with my "calling". To know Him, simply know Him. That is our calling. He brings many opportunities to us to glorify Him in serving others when we know whom we have believed, and are persuaded, He is able…

    Blessings, Love in HIM, ((HUGS)),

    katiegfromtennessee:)

  18. " … its intentional “push” is leaving so many of us feeling diminished …"

    Powerful!

    You have captured so well the recent ponderings of my heart. I so appreciate the direction you've taken with this as it's a much needed freedom for the body today!

    I'm considering "consecration": what it is, what it isn't. Like your own thoughts here, I have concluded there is amazing power in the Ministry of Waiting (upon the Lord). I wish they'd preach more of that, too.

    With all that said, I can sure witness to your calling.

    Hugs,
    Kathleen

  19. thank you for these words. I so needed them today. He wants to be all over me and I need to let him.

    Blessings my friend
    Tammy

  20. I SO agree…and can't help but think of Peter who in his first epistle ALSO wrote of the "calling" by saying…

    And the God of all grace, who CALLED you TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY IN CHRIST, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. I Peter 5:10
    AND
    I Peter 1:3 ….who CALLED us to (or "by") his own glory and excellence (or "goodness")

    Oh to walk worthy of the CALLING we have received!

  21. Elaine, I am so blessed by your words. You put into words something I feel but could never express so eloquently. I too struggle with "calling" wanting to know what it is. Thank you for the reminder that we should seek to know him more each day.

  22. Faith Elaine,

    I have nothing of value to add to all these wonderful thoughts left by friends who love you, your pen and the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet I too want to affirm you and the comfort of this post. I think Sonja's on to something in mentioning a "next book." So much to look forward to after the miseries of this season are only memory.

    Love to you…

  23. wifeforthejourney:

    Glad I can follow up Judith's comments today – your gifts and talents are so evident to all your readers. We insist on making the Gospel complex, when everything about Christianity comes down to relationship with the ONLY God that can be known.

    Thanks for always pointing us towards Him!

    Love you,
    Billy

  24. Obviously you have lived my frustration! Thank you,thank you for showing the way out!!

    Prayers and hugs!

  25. KNOW GOD! INTIMATELY!
    There's no JOY to match it!

    What an honest heart here – for us to examine our own 'callings'!

    Called to be HIS!

    Choosing JOY, Stephanie

  26. God has had me on quite a journey lately. One portion of that journey was a book…The Other Half Of The Gospel.
    It has reminded me that it was for freedom that He set me free. Free from having to do this and do that…because someone told me I should. And of course along those lines was this never ending striving to find my calling…to be doing what He wanted me to do.
    The greatest peace in my life is when I just gave up and told Him I wanted to know Him…..just to sit at His feet and know Him.
    I have a hard time staying there…most times because I want to be used by Him and so I jump up and start the doing again.
    For me willingness is the answer….willingness to rest and just let Him work through me…me with all my flaws and mess. After all…can't people more easily relate to a flawed person rather than one who pretends to be perfect?
    I am rattling…just excited about where he is leading. 🙂
    Praying for you.

  27. YES! Lord lead me deeper into you today! Yes! You have said it all!
    Thank you for speaking the truth!
    I thank Him for you Elaine and I continue to pray for you. What a beautiful post. You are lovely!

  28. Sometimes it takes me a while to get over here because when I see you have a new post, I know it will be deep and meaningful and I want to visit when I have time to read thoroughy and thoughtfully. When I saw the title of this post, I intentionally put off reading it until now for that reason.

    "We've made God's calling on our lives a cumbersome yoke around our necks." Sadly, so true. Yet that flies in the face of what Jesus said, "My yoke is easy, my burden light." duh.

    I feel freedom coming on sister…thank you for these true, wise words!

  29. Friend,

    This could possibly be one of my favorite posts. I've been struggling with the very thing…my calling. It has taken me farther off of the path with Him, I believe. How simple…KNOW HIM. Your post carried even more punch as I've been feeling led to dig deeper into John 17. I shared with my husband how I was feeling the Lord nudging me towards those verses. This morning you can imagine what a blessing it was when my time in the Word (the chronological Bible) took me exactly there.

    …and once again, here at your site-He speaks.

  30. I'm adding a big amen to this one too Elaine. To know Him is the best calling we have. I find that as I spend time with the Lord, I love Him more and more. And then I cannot help but radiate His love to others. It's not me but Him in me doing it all. Way too often we expect to have large ministries as we teach and speak about the Lord. But then we might just miss that older lady who sits all alone in her home just waiting for someone to come and pray with her. Often the most important ministries are done behind closed doors in the prayer closet. And the world doesn't recognize those ministries.

    Praying for you Elaine. I think you have a calling just sharing what's on your heart as you go through your current challenges.

    Blessings and love,

    Debbie

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