The Cage of Calling

God is not merely the Creator of our life. He is also the Author of our life, and he writes each person’s life to reveal his divine story. There never has been nor ever will be another life like mine—or like yours. Just as there is only one face and name like mine, so there is only one story like mine. And God writes the story of my life to make something known about himself, the One who wrote me. The same is true of you. Your life and mine not only reveal who we are, but they also help reveal who God is. -Dan Allender

I really like this quote….alot…I’ll come back to it.

Since humanity committed high treason against the Creator and King, Jesus, we’ve been searching for purpose and significance. I think this truth is seen clearly in the way culture propagates materials that deal with discovering or living out this idea of calling. We want to know why we are individually here and what we are to do in light of that. Unfortunately, unhealthy views of or fixations on calling turn it into a cage that traps us in a cycle of work and significance—leading to burnout, discouragement, or apathetic living. Burnout occurs because we’re fighting tooth and nail to ensure we succeed in calling for our own feelings of significance and in our own strength. Discouragement and apathetic living come because we’ve failed at it so many times that we’ve equated failure with being forsaken by God. Either way calling becomes a cage that traps us in the cycle of work. Life in a cell wasn’t God’s intent, so allow me to think out loud and identify some keys for the cage: clarity, courage, and consistency. (You like the Cs don’t you…it’s the pastor in me.) Today, we’ll focus on the first and dive into the others next week.

Clarity…..

The beginning of my sophomore year in college I was angry, sad, and felt like God was turning His back on me. On my birthday, I laid on the floor in my room crying and ignoring people’s texts and calls to go out and party. I had a sword to my chest, and I remember yelling, “God I’m done….I quit,” then I cried myself to sleep. The next morning I went to church and the sermon was about not quitting—that’s called irony. I never gave up on anything and the first time was on God! In all honesty, there are still some times when it’s hard to embrace the future because of that moment. Did I alter my future or my destiny because I told God I quit, even if I’ve still been pursuing Him? If I may continue speaking candidly, there are a couple of issues with that frame of thinking: the first being my future/my destiny. I really like the aforementioned quote because it expresses three realities: people are made in the image of God, people are made uniquely, and God designed us to know Him intimately and reflect Him personally and corporately. So, I will fight and advocate for self discovery and awareness; however, if we’re created by God and in His image, then “self” discovery and awareness doesn’t occur apart from looking to Jesus and looking at life through Jesus. In other words, my feeling like I altered my future/my destiny meant that I ultimately viewed the focus as myself. (If you can relate, it’s okay to amen in your head; if not, repent, then amen in your head because we’ve all done/do it at some point and time.) Clarity in calling identifies the focus of calling as the Creator, not self-actualization.

6 “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.

-Nehemiah 9:6

When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.

-Psalm 75:3

3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life and the life was the light of men.

-John 1:3-4

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

-Colossians 1:15-17

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

-Romans 11:36

All those scriptures identify a truth that all things were made by God, through Him, and for Him—all things includes us—meaning the road to purpose runs through the person and work of Jesus, and the focus of calling is found in Him as well. While clarity may not occur in a day, we can remind ourselves daily of the reality of by Him, through Him, and for Him, which can help refine our perspective and focus our enjoyment and activity in life and calling. So, if my skill set changes, my passion runs dry, my faith fails me, and my work is insufficient, the ointment for my conscious and soul is that by Him, through Him, and for Him are all things. Significance and subsequent sweetness and security will be that much richer as our hearts submit to that truth.