Have you ever lost sight of your call?
Sometimes I look back at our years of support raising and think about our naivety. We were so sure that the move to Southeast Asia was the right move and we were certain that God would sustain us and show us the way forward in relationship and ministry. This new home we landed in, after all, was the place of our call and there was no plan B. This was it. We had arrived for the long haul with a dream of reaching nationals with the gospel.
Christ glorified among all peoples!
But let’s just say that our first term didn’t end the way we anticipated, and plan A has since been shattered and lost. That language I spent three plus years studying I may never use again. The people, the food, the friends, the ministry, the life are gone and to say I’m crushed would be an understatement. I’m quite near trashed.
I clearly remember the day the call dissolved in front of me and I was powerless to save it. My husband came home after a routine team meeting and took me into the bedroom, locking the door behind him. He was shaking and near tears. “I think we were just kicked off the team,” he said and proceeded to tell me the interaction of the morning. I think my heart stopped beating for a second as I tried to process what that meant. We had worked hard in this place, we had suffered in this place and our ministry was just beginning to take on shape and with the snap of a finger, it was gone. Dreams lost. Hope shattered. Friendships broken. Faith shook.
Within a few days, I had thrown out my back. I couldn’t stand up straight, crawling across the floor to get from place to place, lying flat on my back in pain. Just the physical representation of the emotional reality.
God has shifted the ground under my feet and I have no idea what he is doing or what purpose he has or where he is directing. He is taking me places that I never wished to go and I’m feeling the effects of grief, betrayal, transition, and fear. A lot of fear for the unknown future.
It is so easy to talk about faith in times when faith is not required of us. When the call is strong and resolve is firm. But it is much more difficult to live tangibly in faith when there is nothing to hold fast to. When it feels as if God has left you drowning in the sea, unknown and unloved without purpose. Those easy platitudes and bible verses that were once readily available now raise more questions than they give answers.
I’d like to believe that knowing Christ is my primary ambition in life and that I would be willing to count all else as rubbish. But I don’t. I hold tightly to many things, especially those things that I believe are intrinsic to my faith or value, like my call to cross-cultural living. Still, that is what we are encouraged to do, to count all as rubbish in comparison to the glory of knowing Jesus.
God is shifting my call and in order for me to see it and hear it and feel it, I have to let go of the calling that defined my life for so long. With open hands, I have to admit that this call has only been a step in God’s holy and perfect plan. This call is not holy, in of itself, it is the obedience that makes it powerful and the perseverance within it that forms character and reveals the face of Christ.
But my calling is not my God.
Yet, I often live as though it were. Taking pride in the perceived spirituality of it, believing that my love for God is shown through what I sacrifice and making it the foundation of my character. The more difficult and exotic the location the better. This is why the loss of calling hurts so much because it is a stripping of identity once again. It is revealing the truth of where I have placed my value and it hasn’t been in the hands of God. I have pinned my hopes and self-worth on the distinctness of my call and have lost my first love in the process.
So, while the calling is still elusive, I will view this time as a grace. I will breathe, I will seek, and I will listen. I will listen to the still small voice of God as he heals my soul and provides a new vision. I will remember why I was moved by his call in the first place and gear up to receive the coming steps. I don’t know where he is leading, but I know it will be someplace amazing.
It will be a place I didn’t know I needed to be.
A place I would never have chosen to go on my own.
A place God has already set for me.
Has God ever shifted your calling? How has God provided vision?