Where to Now, Jesus?
I’ve been blogging for a few days now about calling, drawing my cues from The Call, by Os Guinness. I’ve mused on a few simple truths (but the “simple” truths of God are always worthy of our prolonged attention). I’ve remembered, for example, that the call of God originates with God. Our calling does not grow from our dreams and aspirations, it is not our sense of destiny or responsibility or even gifted-ness, but the very "follow me" of the Lord.
I’ve noted also that there is a general call on our lives as believers, and there is a specific call that is unique to us. Today in church my pastor preached from Luke 1:26-36, which is all about the call of God upon a 12-year old Galilean girl named Mary. "Favored one," the angel called her. This was a very specific call, strictly unique, and delivered supernaturally to a scared and puzzled girl.
All of which relates to the personal nature of the calling of God. Sooner or later we all must leave off speaking in generalities, where Jehovah is concerned, whether in the form of creedal statements, however helpful, or historic formulations, however treasured, because our God is a God of relationship. His mercy can bridge the gap caused by sin and also by bad theology. He is the coming-near-God, and his "follow me" is an intensely personal and intimate word.
We cannot manufacture our calling. Neither can we wish it into existence. Abram did not merely wander aimlessly, he followed the supernatural call of God to a place, "a destination and a destiny," that was chosen by God. The Lord met him at the start of the journey. Equipped and provided for him along the way. Directed his steps, and finally brought him into the place that he had picked out for him from the start.
That is calling in a nutshell. I refuse to settle for the deistic conception of a God who came near once, but does so no longer. A God who was personal and intimate once, but is so longer. It occurred to me as I read The Call that, as solid as that book is, I was not going to learn my calling from its pages, nor from the pages of any other book.
So the question remains to be asked: "Where do we go from here, Jesus?" It was Paul who wrote, "Work out your salvation in fear and trembling," and the time comes, and it comes again and again for each of us, when we must face up to that task anew.
The focus of my prayer life in the coming weeks will simply be this issue of calling. Of course I want to serve God in every way that I can right here where I am, but I also realize that God’s call is often a call to leave our comfort zones and our settled ways.
I have a set of wooden bookends that once belonged to my sailor-father, who was nothing if not adventurous. They are in the form of two wooden sailing ships, their great sails filled and billowing with wind. And inscribed at the base of each are the words, "Jesus, Savior, pilot me."
Yes, Lord. And amen.