“God is not necessarily asking you difficult or profound things – to go on missions or to give all your money away – that seldom happens. God is usually saying, ‘Why don’t you do this little thing: just don’t get so mad with your wife’, or ‘Maybe you should start reading a book’. It suddenly becomes clear to you, very clear, ‘That this little thing I really should do.’ It’s amazing when you do one or two a day of these tiny little things. It starts carving a new place in your life and you find yourself – introspectively – having made a whole journey.” – Henri Nouwen, Beloved
I’ve always struggled with knowing what it is God is calling me to. I’ve lived my entire life in an environment where God calls people to “The Ministry” or “Missions” – a calling from God generally resulted in extensive sacrifice for the average Christian, or, if you were really spiritual, you might heed God’s call with joyful obedience. Generally, I’ve avoided asking God what I should do with my life because I haven’t wanted to know the answer. I’ve pictured Him rubbing His hands together: “Okay, boys, now that we’ve got her, should we send her to deepest Africa, or should she be a pastor’s wife at the most dysfunctional church we’ve got?”
On one level this is obviously a trust thing – do I trust God to know how I can best be used by Him, and allow Him to use me that way? But hearing God’s call is also about the contemplative life, making space and time to listen for those very small calls that make a vocation. Vocation is born from silence – “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
This Lent is about my experience giving up the Internet. As I realized last week, however, I’m very skilled at keeping myself occupied, even if it doesn’t involve DSL. This week has been no different; my mom came into town for a week on Wednesday, and we spent Friday and Saturday painting the bedroom. But this week, I’m noticing more my need for solitude, and the Voice I’m missing out on because so much else is clamoring for my attention. Having company tends to do this to me anyways, and I think it’s more prominent because of my Lenten discipline. I know that God wants to speak to me through this fast, and I feel the time slipping away – I am not making the effort I should (should! Again with the guilt!) to set aside quiet, contemplative time. Tomorrow, I say to myself. Tomorrow I’ll do devotions, I’ll listen for God’s calling, I’ll discover what it is I’m supposed to be doing with my life.
I can sense the depth, I can almost feel the richness. The vision has been cast: what Life could be like if I would die to myself. Maybe God isn’t calling me to Africa. Maybe my vocation is just loving my daughter, or playing outside, or having lunch with someone who’s intriguing me. Maybe it’s all those things. This is my chance to stop and find out.