Scary stories from a lovely place
I would love to own a time-machine. And when I say time-machine, I do mean in the Back to the Future sense. I want a delorean equipped with a fluxcapacitor, the ability to alter mistakes made in the past and to be Marty McFly’s girlfriend. But I also want a time-machine so that I would have the ability to look back on my life and learn from it’s paths. Basically, this is hindsight, and if I had hindsight (or a time-machine) I would be able to answer that illusory question that lots of Christians ask “has God called me into this”.
People who talk about God’s ‘calling’ on their life are generally missionaries, super earnest and intense about ministry and wanting to feel/walk/be very intimate with God. After a long conversation with these people I end up feeling crap about my own lacking in these areas. When I arrange my time-machine, or figure out hindsight, maybe then I will be able to look back in 50 years time and say “yes God called me to live in South Africa” or “God certainly called me to marry Stephen” or “God called me to live at the beach” (please). I just worry with the whole ‘calling’ speak that it’s possible to really want to do something, like move to South Africa or live at the beach, and end up over spiritualising that decision, as well as making ourselves feel and sound very important.
For me I have made many decisions that I have consulted God in, I have read his word, I have prayed and I have sought the advice of wise, older people. But never in any of those decisions have I felt a strong ‘calling’, whatever that would look like. For those who can testify to a ‘calling’ it seems to come in different forms; audibly hearing a voice from God, a strong ‘sense’ that develops over time or comes in a surprising instant or a way of making sense of a collection of events/opinions/motivations/desires. This is all a very personal experience so the ‘call’ probably comes in other forms too.
All these reasons are a little too reliant on self-assurance for me. Maybe I’m just lacking in the faith department but if I were to lay claim to a ‘calling’ I would want to be very sure that it was indeed a direct instruction from God and not just my mind/heart putting together good or bad desires and making that something certain from a higher power. I would have to get an SMS from God’s phone (what is his number again?) or a letter postmarked from the trinity or have a face to face conversation with the man himself. Or if I could find a verse in the bible that outlined my specific ‘calling’ then I would be satisfied (I would want it to actually say my name though). The danger of placing too much emphasis on what we have personally deduced to be God’s plan for our lives is that that feeling can override what is actually in authority, and that is God’s actual words we read in the bible.
And I don’t really think we need more guidance than what God has written for us in the bible, or more assurance than what we know we have guaranteed for us because of Jesus. Sure, claiming a ‘calling’ is much more romantic and cool sounding than merely saying you know what God wants you to do because you can read it in the bible. And unswerving dependance on the certainty of the bible is awfully old-fashioned these days, even for Christians. Trouble is, the bible is the only sure thing, and I wouldn’t trust my own feelings and instincts above God’s inspired words. I find that my feelings and instincts are quite unreliable, moody some might say (Stephen does). I don’t really understand why so many people are ‘called’ to be a part of big, comfortable, successful churches, or to live in lovely seaside towns or to move from a difficult place to a much easier place; while not many people are called to do ministry in rural areas, or super poor areas or stick by crappy churches even if their needs aren’t being met. God is all about loving those who are crap (read: selfish, sinful people) and so I don’t get why he would call so many people to nice places.
But then again, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with living by the beach (please) or going to an awesome church. I hope to get my specific call for beach-side living very soon. In the meantime I hope to acquire a delorean very very soon so that I can get up to 88-miles per hour and look back on the last 26 years of my life, or just cruise around.