Calling

I was thinking about calling the other day. It's something I think about often since we coach other people in it through Namesake.

Your calling is to obediently respond to the relationship invitation: God commands you to do something with your life, or a portion of it, and you respond by doing it. He could be saying “love this person” or “adopt this child” or “start this business.” Your calling may change over the years, and it shouldn’t be confused with your purpose, or become the primary focus of your existence.
— Namesake Workbook

What I was thinking about and asking God on this particular day was, "Is it really OK to follow your passions and dreams? God, do you really want to grant us our hearts' desires? Don't people always say not to trust your heart? Umm... doesn't the Bible say both of those things?"

At first glance, Psalm 20:4 and Jeremiah 17:9 seem to be in complete contrast to one another. King David is singing, "May God give you the desires of your heart!" And Jeremiah is preaching, "Don't trust your heart at all!" 

(What the world?!)

The Holy Spirit answered me, "If your heart is surrendered to Me, then yes, of course I want to give you the desires of your heart. But if your heart is not surrendered to Me, then I first want to bring you into submission to My will. I want to align your heart with mine."

And God doesn't want to bring us into submission because He's a domineering, no-good bully. He wants us to surrender to Him because His Way is higher than our ways... because He loves us. Believe it or not, He actually knows what's best for us.

How many of us can attest to that truth? 

I know I can. Every time I've sought my own way and tried to blaze my own path, I ended up on a dead end. I ended up self-destructing. I ended up in terrible, awful situations. Drinking. Partying. Unhealthy relationships. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Selfishness. Trouble. The list goes on and on.

The world lies to us. It says "pursue this" and "chase that." But that's all it is — a chase. When we follow the world, we end up chasing our tails. We chase happiness, and we never find it. We chase contentedness, and it never comes. How many of us have thought, "If I can just get that job or into this school or buy that car or own a house or lose this much weight or have this much in savings... then, I'll be happy!" But those things never satisfy, and they never will. Chasing, chasing. Some people spend a lifetime doing it.

Meanwhile, Jesus patiently waits. He whispers, "Follow me. I'll show you the Way." Joy, grace, peace, love, life to the fullest.

Read this parable, and replace "sell whatever you own" with whatever the thing is that you're holding onto with all of your might. Is it money? Is it a job? A person? Your children? Your reputation? Beauty, appearance, fitness? Judgment? Competence? A hardened heart? Wounding? Fear? Doubt? Insecurity? Hand it over to Jesus. Imagine yourself laying it at His feet.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
— John 14:6, NIV

I want to end by saying this: If God is calling you to something — to a calling or first to Himself — seriously, go for it. I understand that trusting isn't easy. I understand that taking the step may be hard. There may be lots of obstacles, challenges, and difficult conversations ahead of you. But God knows what He's doing. And with every leap you take, this whole faith game gets easier.

All you can do is today. Worry about tomorrow tomorrow. (I'm preaching to myself here!)

When we leap, and God pulls through for us, two things happen:

1. God is glorified.
People will say, "Wow, he/she must serve a great God, because there's no way that person could've done that on his/her own." And it's true, there is no way. This is God's work, and all we have to do is be willing vessels for change, impact, love.

2. We stack stones.
Israel did this in the Old Testament. When God fulfilled a promise to His people, He instructed them, "Stack stones in this place so people will know what I did here." When we stack stones in our own lives, it helps us remember. It helps us take the next leap. It helps us live a life of faith and trust in a big, big God. And I think it sparks something in others as well.

Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.” That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked. Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.”
— Mark 10:23-27, MSG

I hope you have a great rest of your week, friends. Be free. Be encouraged.