Do Hard Things: The Call
Philippians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Calling. It’s a loaded concept. We church people LOVE to talk calling. It sounds big and mystical and very Old Testament. And very, very important to get right. If God has a very specific thing for you to do with your life, wouldn’t you want to know it, and be confident that the assignment is from God? Personally, I wouldn’t mind a burning bush-style clarity. But since I haven’t had an audible, clear message directly from God, I’ve had to think and pray a lot about how to figure out what God wants me to do.
When I talk to folks who are curious about foster care, I hear phrases like “pulled,” “compelled,” “on my heart,” “passion,” “can’t stop thinking about,” and “burdened.” Those phrases are understandably followed by ones like “not the time,” “can’t imagine how I’d do that,” “too emotional,” “not in a place to do that,” or something like that. How do we reconcile something God has put on our hearts with the realities of what it will require of our lives? Or the million reasons it’s unwise to step forward?
I’m no theologian. But for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents on hard callings.
We might not get a telegram from God with express instructions (anyone else jealous of people like Jonah and Moses on this front?). But, we do have express instructions to love God’s people and we know that God’s plan to restore and redeem on this earth is through us, his people. That much we can be sure of.
The next question is, how do I use everything God has given me to love his people and help restore the broken, messy, hurting parts of our world? God’s given every one of us specific resources, including finances, time, schedule, abilities, platform, influence, community, personality, intelligence, experiences, connections, interests and so forth.
Where do your resources align with the needs of God’s people? For me, this is where foster care becomes a clear answer. I’m very interested in helping children and families in need. My personality can withstand risk and uncertainty and heartache, even though it’s very hard and sad. (Note: I truly believe that some people are in a mental / emotional / spiritual space to love vulnerable children and let them go, and some people are not. And that is completely okay.) I have space in my schedule, finances, and community for additional kiddos. And I feel like God’s given me some measure of connection and influence in this space that I don’t want to waste.
The last step is dealing with the nays. The reasons that this calling makes no sense given your current life. I can’t tell you which ones negate a calling and which ones don’t. For me, reasons that boil down to “this will be hard” or “this is outside my comfort zone” don’t negate a calling. Reasons that boil down to “this is really unwise" need a closer look.
In my own discernment process, I trust the Holy Spirit to help me figure out where my resistance is based on not wanting to sacrifice my feelings, time, schedule, relationships, etc. Pray, pray, pray, and then pray some more, friends. Enlist friends and community to pray with you and to speak into the process.
My greatest fear is that I miss out on something God has for me because I’m too short-sighted to say yes.
Will you pray this with me today? “Dear Lord, you have asked me to love people the way that you do. I am scared, unequipped and unsure. Will you help me discern where you want me to be in this season? I trust that anywhere you send me is the best place for me to be, for the good of me and others and for your glory. Amen.”