Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Three Major Take-Aways From "The Call"
My two previous posts alluded to a book I was reading for a class which was also one that I had been planning to read for personal pleasure as well. The book is entitled The Call: Finding and Fulling the Central Purpose for Your Life.As one who hopes to have a stronger idea of what exactly God is calling me to, I assumed that reading a book with such an apt title written by a seasoned, intellectual Christian would provide concrete answers and steps to discover my calling. Guinness’ book did everything but what I was expecting; although that was the case I thoroughly enjoyed the read. From this book I gleaned three major pieces of wisdom that have truly helped shape my understanding of calling in general and how I personally should be approaching God’s calling on my life.
The first is from one of the opening chapters where Guinness makes a powerful distinction in calling that is not talked about much in Christian circles as he writes, “Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia). Building off of this in a later chapter he writes of Abraham and the Israelites, “In both cases their sense of direction and meaning came solely from God’s call, not from their foresight, their wisdom, or their ability to read their circumstances. Being in seminary one of the first questions asked me is, “What are you doing after?” or “What are you called to do?” I am so tempted just several weeks in to give them answer to what I will be doing three or four years from now and often I give one. But what I learned from these passages is that my calling is primarily to God, not to do something or go somewhere. I am learning to be content in my calling first to God, living for Him each day, trusting that the rest will be revealed as He chooses.
The second somewhat stems from this and is the main idea of the chapter The Audience of One. Guinness writes, “A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others—the Audience of One.” I read this knowing that I live before an audience greater than God, namely the audience of my family. For reasons I am still discovering, I feel as though I am living in the shadow of a family that does not approve nor fully understand why I am doing what I am doing and Who I am called to. Much of my hope is this though which says, “one day they will see exactly the great things God does through me as I preach in front of thousands and write dozens of books.” I want their praise, though I know I shouldn’t nor will I ever be satisfied in it. Reading this chapter was one step closer to freeing me to help me see that I live for God and God alone.
The final piece of wisdom brought a lot of practical light to my Christian life and calling. In the chapter What is That to You? Guinness deals with the sin of envy, using Thomas Aquinas’ definition—“sorrow at another’s good.” Sadly envy has characterized much of my Christian walk up this point as I can recall countless times where I would compare myself with other believers who were better theologians, better speakers, better writers, more accomplished at my age, more compassionate—the list could go on. After reading this chapter I was led to go before the Lord in repentance of this disgusting sin, knowing that it hinders me from rejoicing in what God is doing in and through my brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that it also hinders my calling to God in terms of seeing the best in others and utilizing that for the sake of his Kingdom.
I am very thankful to have read The Call, seeing God’s faithfulness in revealing more of himself to me each day. I pray to heed the words Guinness concludes each chapter with: “Listen to Jesus of Nazareth; answer his call.”
By His Grace.