I recently returned from the Urbana 2006 missions convention in St. Louis, Missouri. The convention had delgates from 145 countries, from every state and province of the United States and Canada. It is a massive event and this years theme was “Live Worthy of the Calling” from the book of Ephesians, which was highlighted throughout the conference. Issues of calling are salient in the minds of college students as they take classes, attend lectures, and pursue careers. For many others of us, calling is a question that fades unfortunately into the background noise of pressing daily concerns.
That is at least, what had begun to happen to me. It is not as though I had abandoned the Lord, or had ceased to listen for his voice. It was rather that I had grown rather complacent in simply living and working from day to day. I had moved from a place of intensity in my desire to hear clearly and distinctly what God wanted to do and to be, and found myself beginning to settle for mediocrity and ordinariness in both my work and my personal spiritual life.
Fortunately for me, our God cared enough to rouse me from my sleep and again shine brightly on me – the bright light of his calling as annoying and welcoming as the sun breaking through the early morning slumber with which we are all familiar. Why is it that we stop our pursuit of calling and settle so easily? Partly I think it is a healthy place of maturity that causes us to rest from the turmoil of a youthfulness that wants to do everything all at once and is impatient to see the kingdom of God come NOW. Mostly though I think it is the accumulation of resources material, emotional, relational, and physical. We buy houses and furnish them. We marry. We watch newscasters that agree with us and read books that reinforce our beliefs. We hang out with people who, if they don’t look like us, at least act and think like we do, and so confirm for us that our state of self satisfied complacency is the best of all possible worlds.
In short, we stop pursuing calling because God is simply too unpredictable and unreliable when it comes to the comfort and convenience of our lives. He might ask us to do something upsetting, like move into the inner city, or go serve the poor overseas, or drop our steady job and go back to school. He might alter our plans, disrupt our schedules and generally make a nuisance of himself with his insistence on being Lord of all of our lives. Quite frankly we think that sort of radical reorientation is best left to young people, to high schoolers and college kids, to the kinds of people that go to Urbana. It is good for us that God refuses to every take rear place to our own agendas, no matter what.