Calling: The Ultimate Why
So the book is entitled The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, by Os Guinness. What follows is not a review of the book, but one part recapitulation of its main points, and another part marginal notes by me as I consider the meaning of "calling" for my own life.
The call of God is summed up in the words spoken by Jesus to the men he had chosen to be his apostles: "Follow me." The question for believers, each step along the way, is (waxing poetical here) "Whither thou, Jesus?"
I’ve heard many people over the years, Christians, say something like this: "I know God has placed a call on my life, but I just don’t know what it is?" Well, broadly speaking, the answer is something like, Love God and love people. Find a way to do this today, and tomorrow, and the next day, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
Simple, right? But of course it’s not simple. The fact is, we have trouble following Jesus. We have trouble doing what he called us to do, being what he called us to be. Furthermore, many modern believers have been taught to expect abundance of blessings to come to them if they only have faith. Nevertheless, they find themselves slogging from day to day, wondering what they’re doing wrong.
The fact is, the question of calling is a very personal one. Following Jesus is going to have a level of specificity and particularity for each of us, by God’s design, so that the call to follow is "worked out" in my life along different lines than in yours, simply because he has gifted me differently than he has gifted you. So it is not merely egoistic, but spiritually rational to ask, "What does following Jesus look like for me specifically?" Or, as Tolstoy said, "What shall we do and how shall we live?"
Guinness says that God’s calling is so decisive that, once we have dropped our nets and followed, our whole lives, everything we are, everything we do, is lived out in response to that summons. He writes, "That is why calling provides the Archimedian point by which faith moves the world. That is why calling is the most comprehensive reorientation and the most profound motivation in human experience–the ultimate Why for living in all history."