I was out to dinner with some folks from my church earlier this week when the conversation turned, as it frequently does when a religious professional is at the table, to the subject of vocation. “How did you know that you wanted to be a priest,” someone asked.
It never seems quite polite to simply say, ‘God told me to.”
The bible is full of stories of God, or Jesus “calling” men and women to specific roles or jobs within the community of the faithful. This week in church we’ll hear several of them ranging from a classic Old testament prophet to a couple of peculiar interactions that lead fishermen to follow Jesus. While each of these stories is unique, they all seem to carry the same general meaning – God wants people to help him in his work of salvation – God calls people to help.
While the message is simple, the ways in which that message is (mis)heard, (mis)understood and either acted upon or ignored are as varied as the folks that God calls in the first place. And this is where I think we ultimately get the guidance we need as we wrestle with God’s call in our lives. Its not simple that God want ‘people’ to help him in his cause, it is that he wants US. I am convinced that each and every one of us is being called in some way shape of form into the project of God’s saving work in the world. Whether and how well we hear this call is the real magic of the thing. And hearing the call stories of others is just about the best way I know to make sure that we are acting well toward God’s claim on our life.
So, no matter how many times it comes up in polite dinner conversation, I’m glad to share my call story and to point folks in the direction of others whose stories are as different from mine as can be. It’s all one call. But it’s a lot of stories.