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Essential Callings - Saint James Church

Essential Callings

Today James started a new series on calling. He told the story of two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who disobeyed an order from the King of Egypt to kill all of the male Hebrew babies. These two women are named in the Bible because they answered the call of God to do the right thing. Pastor James juxtaposed this call with the grander call stories of the Bible like that of Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus. The point of the sermon was that God’s call on our life is not always in the form of a blinding transformation or a burning bush. In fact, it is most unlikely that God’s call will look anything like that.

I absolutely loved this sermon because it made me think about call in a completely new way. I wonder how many Christians are like me and have wasted too much time waiting for God’s call so that we can really make a difference. We look around us and lament the state of the world. We sit back and wait to get involved until we know for sure what form that involvement should take. We admire and envy others who have had their big “ah ha” moment and are really focused in living out their faith. We think that clergy are special because only clergy are really, truly called by God. We spend time in thought and prayer obsessing and waiting for what God expects from us. Does this sound familiar? I hope not. I hope other people have not been wasting time and energy like I have been. James offered a new way to think about call. My takeaway is that every human has two essential callings in their life and that we should be more focused on answering them than on waiting for anything more specific. After all, the Bible says: I have told you what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

The first essential call is to discover who we are. God gives us life and free will. We are a gift to ourselves, each other, and the world. But we cannot share that gift unless we unwrap it and know what it is and how it works. Each of us must know what we love, what we are good at, and what makes us happy. God did not make robots. God made each of us. And so the first call is: show me who you are! I think there is unbelievable power in this call. It is an invitation to be ourselves, our true selves. It is a call to freedom! The God of the Universe made us not as living dolls to be posed and manipulated but as thinking creatures who can act for ourselves. Why then do so many of us seek to conform to what other people expect? And why do we think that the very same God who created us as unique individuals would want us to be anything but ourselves? The second essential call from God is: center your life on Me! It is true that we are called to freedom of self, but we are also called to anchor that self in the Source of all Light and Life. God did not create us to abandon us on the tumultuous sea of life. We are meant to find
connection and meaning in the Divine. Sadly, too many people think of that anchor as a chain that limits and enslaves. How many non-Christians don’t want to commit to God for that very reason? And how many Christians do not truly answer the call to center their lives on God for the same reason!

It is because we don’t acknowledge the first essential call and its freedom that we think the second essential call means slavery. Too many of us think that being a Christian starts with a call to submit to God. And we interpret that to mean becoming someone else who gives up who we are when in fact the reverse is true. Upon reflection, it seems possible that we are MORE likely to discover and be our true selves when centered on the Divine than when we are unmoored in the waters that threaten to overwhelm us. God calms the oceans of life so that we have a chance to grow and to become.

And so, we should each answer these two essential calls in our lives: discover who you are and center yourself on me. There is nothing specific that is more important or more marvelous.

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