Clarity versus Calling

Christians often use language that I just don’t get. As a Christian myself this can become bothersome. The two things that generally confuse me the most are “God has called me somewhere!” and “God spoke to me so I know it’s what I need to do!”

It’s hard to express how far from my own personal experience these two phrases go. Since I graduated from college I have been overseas in two different countries for essentially Christian missions work. Was I supposed to go to South Africa? Yes. Should I be in the Czech Republic now? Surely. Did God call or speak to me directly in either case? Not so much.

First let me say I deeply respect those who genuinely feel and believe that God has called them and/or speaks to them. At times I envy their experiences and belief. It just hasn’t happened to me. I often find exceptions that make me wonder. People get all excited to go someplace, “I have my calling!” and then it completely flames out, sometimes really fast. Did God really call this person or was it just misplaced excitement? When I press people on what it was like for God to “speak” to them in the past they eventually say something like “Well, it wasn’t an audible voice, I just knew he had.” Huh? Since when do things speak in a non-audible way? You have to completely redefine the word “speak” to use it in this context. It seems evident to me that many times (but not always) Christians are looking for some divine horoscope that will just tell them exactly what they are supposed to do. A nice idea, but why do we need an astrology couched in religious language when we have the Bible and Prayer?

So why am I talking about this now? It’s time to come to a decision here about whether to stay another year in the Czech Republic or return to the states. I can say definitively that God has not called me or spoke to me about staying or going but yet I feel clear on what I need to decide. How can this be? To sum up, I have clarity.

I’ve looked at both options, I’ve weighed different possibilities, I’ve prayed about things, and it just seems very clear what I need to do.  I still have about 10 days to make the decision so I won’t express it here but I feel thankful for the clarity I have and that I feel God has (in some “spiritual, intangible, I’m not really sure how to explain” way) given me. I have an idea of what my destination will be but little idea what the path will look like. I hope I can stay open to any curves God might place in my path. I’m excited to continue walking, growing, and progressing. Not because God has shown me everything that will happen, but because he is here right next to me, experiencing it and helping me as I go.

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10 thoughts on “Clarity versus Calling

  1. I have only ever felt “called” to do something a few times, but it has always been more like what you call clarity. God does not speak in an audible voice, but when I feel peace about something, when everything keeps directing me in that way, it seems good, it feels clear, that is what it feels like, to me, for God to be calling me to do something in my life. I’m glad that you have clarity in your decision. This was very encouraging.

  2. Well…. I know from my own experience I know laid on my heart the need to do work in Africa. Did I hear him speaking to me in an audible voice no… however, that does mean that God did speak to me but through the Holy Spirit that is in me. He placed that in my heart 3 years before I ever set foot in Africa. I don’t ever jump at something.. I test it. I told God OK if he made the way open for me. I knew I could not do it on my own if He wanted me there….. Three, yes three years later, He opened a door and I took my first trip to Swaziland. The following year I met you in Harrismith, this past year I was back in Swaziland… and in 2010 I will be going back to Swaziland again.

    Would I say it was a calling… absolutely…. otherwise He wouldn’t keep putting in my heart to keep going back… or put people in my path when I am there that have become life long friends and relationships.

    • thanks robby, your kind words mean a lot. the unfortunate thing is a great many Christians don’t do Christianity (or anyone) a service when they talk about it which is depressing. things are solid over here, perhaps we can meet up this summer sometime if your still in Boston. peace.

  3. I like that there can still be trust in clarity. As you said, we don’t know what the path will look like, how long it will take, or what we will meet along the way; but we know our destination. We (I) need to trust that God will get me to where He wants me no matter how impatient, restless, or excited I am to get there. I think with clarity comes a better understanding of calling (or vocation). It just seems to me that, all to often, once someone figures out their calling, it’s easier to discard trust.

  4. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for your comments. I’ve been thinking on that topic lately, since I read a “favorite quotation” of a friend on FB who describes herself as an athiest:

    “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” Susan B. Anthony

    I found it interesting, because I somewhat agree with the quote. When someone is so sure to be able to say “God told me…” and it does seem like something that person would want to do anyway, I distrust it.

    On the other hand, I firmly believe that God does lead His children and can and often does in very clear and direct ways. The difference, however, is that often that direction is NOT what the person directed would desire on his/her own. If I were to go that way anyway, I wouldn’t need to hear any direction. Oswald Chambers writes a lot about “hearing God’s voice.” He does speak…in many different ways, through many different mediums (His word, circumstances, prayer, through other believers…), and life is an adventure when one has the assurance, or clarity, if you will, that he or she is where God wants him/her to be. The caveat in it all, however, is that He doesn’t give us the long-term picture at once. Only enough for the next step. That’s where the trust comes in. Once we respond with, “Now I know what I’m to do,” and start to interpret what will come of it a month, year, decade later, we are ceasing to listen and instead making our own plans. And when those plans pan out, we can become discouraged, because, “I thought that God was leading me to….because He wanted…., but then…..happened.”

    May He make your next step clear, as you make your decision this week. God bless!

    • Hi Amy, thanks for your comment. You gave a lot of really good things to chew on and ponder. I’m realizing now I took on a pretty big topic with this entry but I love getting a conversation started so thanks for being a part.

  5. I recommend The Call by Os Guinness. Yes, he’s from the Guinness family of beer brewers. It’s very sophisticated writing and sometimes I had to re-read paragraphs twice to understand what he was saying, but he addresses this clarity versus calling versus vocation versus occupation etc. He doesn’t talk much (if any) about people audibly hearing from God, but he does talk about work and how that relates to God and many of the issues surrounding this.

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review « A Journey in Teaching

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