The creativity of “calling”

Early in my years as an evangelical Christian, the idea of calling was huge. Every question, every prayer, everything it seemed was designed to make sure that we, as college students, were seeking to follow God’s “call” on our life.

It was if there was one thing and if you missed it, you were destined to live life in the shadows of faith. Of course that is totally NOT the way to see it or understand calling. Yes, sure sometimes people hear or sense God leading them in a certain direction, but that doesn’t happen to everyone.. and if you are one of the people who (like me) who never “heard” God tell them to do something specific… you didn’t miss a thing.

Now, let me state for the record: I know I am certainly not the first to write about this, nor am I going to sit and write about what calling really means or how to find it or the plethora of other approaches one could take.

Instead, I want to just ask you to sit with me in the wonder and vastness of the creativity of God, when he created people of every nation and tribe and tongue, with brilliance and intelligence that I can just not fathom. Then I want to invite you to think of what “calling” really means, in the wake of this vast, creative passion.

I work with some brilliant solution architects, data gurus and programmers. The way their minds think boggles me. I’ve worked with them for 26 years and I still cannot do the things they can.

A good friend of mine from back in Virginia is such an amazing cook, he can make a gourmet meal no matter what he has in his kitchen. He was like those apps that you enter all your ingredients and they find you a recipe… before smart phones ever existed. I’m pretty good in the kitchen given a recipe…. but its no comparison to what he can do.

Two new friends are so musically gifted that I often sit in their music studios in their houses (well, one is in our garage).. and marvel at their screens and mixing tools and ability to blend instruments and voices and produce these beautiful melodies. Where do song lyrics come from? How are they inspired to write? I could never do that.. I just enjoy the fruit of their labors.

Then there is the whole architecture thing. How in the world do architects know just how to build bridges so they will sway with wind and storms, but not break? Did you know that there are people that climb them to check them, because their climbing skills are such that they can handle it if something happened, and they aren’t afraid?

What about this. Do you ever sit in the doctors office and look at the body charts they have on the wall? I did, the other day, waiting for my yearly eye checkup. The eye is crazy detailed. The reality that someone delights in learning all that and studying it so that they can help people see, or do eye surgery? Fascinating.

When my older daughter decided she wanted to head into the medical field, we took a trip to MTSU as she was considering nursing school at the time. One of the things I will never forget was a questionnaire they gave her as a screening tool. It had a bunch of true/false questions on it like “I faint easily” and “I can handle the sight of blood” to “I am generally calm in a crisis”. Appropriate questions for any medical career.

She just laughed reading them. “I watch brain surgery videos for fun,” she commented.

All I could think of was this:

Sure.. God called some to be prophets and teachers and pastors and stuff… but others he has called to be firefighters and paramedics, doctors and nurses, brain surgeons and every other surgeon you can think of. Only some people are cut out to see all that blood and guts … and its definitely NOT me!

Then there are the quiet ones, the ones that do things no one may seem to notice but play really imporant roles too. They type 90 words a minute and transcribe legal cases, or notes from a meeting with a CEO, or they work with people who have had their houses burnt down to and do all the paperwork to rebuild, or they design buildings, or they come up with new and creative ways to help sustain entire communities in other countries.

Some run non-profits and barely scrape by, but they are changing lives by getting people out of debt, or building wells for fresh water, or making sure people have shoes.. or that they are pulled out of slavery. They knit or sew or make candles or soap, or provide micro loans so people can get back on their feet.

Then you have your moms and dads of little ones that are so creative they can build forts out of the collection of toilet paper tubes and a few sheets and make $100 last a week when they need to, teenagers that are like little kid magnets that give their parents a much needed break. Teachers. Oh Teachers, the ones that have had to learn how to do things online when they never have before, how to engage kids and try to make it interesting, whether they are 4 year olds or 17 year olds. The ones that fork over hundreds out of their own pockets to finish their classrooms and draw their own diagrams and teach history in a way that kids can relate to it.

So

many

more.

I could go on and on – and so could you, I know. The thought of how people are drawn to certain careers or things they do to make a living or to help others just blows my mind.

So calling? Its ALL of it. All of it is a calling of God to take care of the world he has given us. Its right there in Genesis chapter 1 – fill the earth, take care of it, manage it.

He knew we were going to need all types of skills to do just that. … and no one can limit the breadth and width of what they are.

I love that even in the Old Testament, trades workers were called out. Bezalel and Ohiliab were specifically named for their craftsmanship, intelligence, and knowledge (and I’d say creativity too) – read Exodus 35:30-36:2 where they are highlighted – but really chapters 36-38 explain everything they and their team built and designed.

So my friends, whatever your job is, whether you are paid or not, whether you spend hours doing it or just a few – know that you are gifted and talented to dig into that and do it WELL, because YOUR job is important.

I also want to pass along a few GREAT resources I found – check them out if you are struggling to understand why what you do matters!

BOOK: Work Matters, by Tom Nelson

WEBSITE: http://www.theologyofwork.org

My take on Hebrews 11

The view of mountains (far, far in the distance) as you drive into Colorado from Nebraska. I promise you, they are there right beneath the clouds.

If you have been in church for any length of time, you have probably heard Hebrews 11:1 quoted often:

“For Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things unseen”

or, as the Message translation puts it: “The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. Its our handle on what we can’t see”

The author then goes on to list all these people who lived from the time God called Abram somewhere between 2100 and 1800 BC through his current time, pointing to choices people had to make in the face of difficulty to show that they knew God had bigger plans for them, for their nation, for their lives. Not all of their lives are reflected in this overview, just some big, recognizable stories. It would be like if you had done your family’s genealogy and you just wrote about the highlights, like “your great, great, great grandparents moved from [insert country] to [insert country] with nothing, just to make a better life/escape war… then by faith they took this job and followed this path… and it landed them [insert state/country] where they met [insert spouse], and married them even though the family shamed them …”.

You get the picture. High level. Hard stuff that takes guts and faith in a God-sized destiny. The ability to look far, far away and see something beautifu. Kind of like looking for mountains on the horizon as you drive into Colorado, just waiting for them to appear 🙂

One of the things I have always loved to challenge people with is to read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11. Note the things you think really took faith, and note the ones that didn’t. Fact check. Do you think the author was painting any of this with rose-colored glasses?

Here’s why I ask: “…by faith [Moses] left Egypt, unafraid of the kings anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible”. Yet if you read Ex 2:14, there is a bit of a different take on why Moses left Egypt.

I’m not saying this to point out an error in the bible. But I do think the author of Hebrews is using this as an example to make a point. He could look back and SEE the long haul of Moses life, which DOES tell us that God walked with him to bring deliverance for the Israelites. Much of his later life IS lived in light of believing on the One who is invisible.

So this is big picture vision. How much of our lives to we spend in small picture vision?

Yes, the day in- day out existence matters. Did you speak kindly to your wife/husband/child/partner/friend/neighbor/person-at-the-checkout-counter/coworker/enemy today? Yes motives in business matter, Yes to all the little things that honor God.

But have you ever taken a step back and looked at your life to see the things that you have walked through, by faith? Not for self glory, but to take a humble look at how God has led you, maybe even when you didn’t notice.

By faith… what has been overcome? By faith, what did you live through? By faith, how were you carried by God when you just about gave up?

Sometimes when we wrestle to understand scripture, its easy to forget that our lives too can be found in these stories. They look different, they sound different, but God is still a God of rescue and deliverance. He is still writing stories…. and don’t think for a second that yours doesn’t belong alongside the list of folks in Hebrews 11!

What’s your story? No matter how hard it might be to write it down, get it all out. When you cannot see where God was there for you…. rather than avoid it, I challenge you to be willing to face it, be honest, and ask God about it. I trust He was there in a way you cannot ever have imagined.

— Tama