By Rich Leatherberry, Mission Pastor
My oldest daughter and I used to invent games to play when she was really, really young. One of our favorites was right before bedtime.
I would lay on the floor along the side of her bed so she couldn’t see me. And she would start out on top of the bed and crawl slowly to the edge – knowing I was down there somewhere, but not able to see me. Then with a loud squeal that was half giggle, half scream she would dive off headfirst. And I would catch her. Holding her in my arms, I’d kiss her, turn her around and then toss her up into the air
– up over the edge of the bed and back onto the mattress again where she would bounce around a few times. More squealing. More laughter. Some silence. Then suddenly she would dive off the mattress and I’d catch her again. And again. And again. Dive, catch, toss. Those were great times. Great Daddy game right before bed time. Don’t you think? It’s in the dad job manual by the way. Page 3. “Get the kids all wound up right before bedtime and then leave them for Mommy to deal with. It’s actually the last page of the dad manual. I think my wife’s manual was 3 volumes. But I’m not sure cause I wasn’t paying attention like she was.
Our little game is a great picture of what it is like when we are living into our calling. God launching us out on the ride of our lives
and us jumping into God’s arms because we are totally dependent on His power and His love to make it happen.
There is one other part of that story that is really important for us to understand if we really want to live into our calling. And here it is. Nothing happens until we get off the mattress. We have to leave our places of safety and security in order to experience the adventure of our call.
There are four principles we all should know about our calling and here they are.
First. Finding our calling is a process. It takes time and it takes some patience. It means trying new things; discovering what give us life, brings us joy and makes time fly by when we do them. It also means we will experience the opposite when we are doing things that are not our calling. Life gets drained from us, time drags on by and we wish we were somewhere or someone else.
Second. We are called to be like who we are, not to be like someone else. That means while God called Moses, He has not called me to be like Moses’ or like Peter or like Scott Dudley or like any other person on staff. God calls us to be like who God uniquely and wonderfully created us to be. Its your best ‘you.’
Third, our calling is not something we create. Its something we discover. We discover our calling when we examine how we are made, what we are good at and what we are not so good at. What we really care about. All the stuff that makes you, you. And through a process of self examination over time, we begin to discover things about ourselves. Like whether we are a people person or prefer keyboards and screens. Analyzer or intuitive? Creative type or logical and linear? Are you better with your hands or with your mind or with your speaking ability? Do you prefer helping other people or solving problems behind a desk?
When we pay attention to ourselves, how we respond to different situations, the kinds of things that, when we do them, bring us joy, then we begin to discover our calling. Our calling isn’t a job someone else thinks we would be good at. And it isn’t a set of goals we create for ourselves so that we can earn a certain kind of lifestyle or live in a certain place. We can’t create ourselves. Because the person we create will be different than the person we really are. Calling is within us. It wants to be discovered.
Fourth, our calling is daily. Most of the time we think of our calling in terms of the bigger purpose and mission of our lives. Big decisions we have to make or choices that will shape the trajectory of our lives. Like the job we think God wants us to have, or the person we think God wants us to marry or the volunteer opportunity we think God wants us to take.
But there is a part of our calling that is so daily. Each day is filled with dozens of opportunities God gives us to bless other people. Each opportunity is like a door God opens up before us and His call is for us to go through it. It could be noticing someone who needs help and so you walk through that door. It could be the opportunity to heal a relationship so you walk through that door. It could be the opportunity to offer to pray for someone so you walk through that door.
That might be in the job you have now or in the school you are at now or with the friendships you have now or in the neighborhood you live in now. When we start recognizing the doors God is opening up for us each day, life becomes an exciting adventure.
So what is God showing you today about your calling? What are you discovering about the ‘you’, God has created you to be? What doors is God opening for you today?