Wednesday, April 17, 2013

God is Calling

He said to me:  O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.  And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me.  -- Ezekiel 2:1-2

"... get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and to testify to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.  --  Acts 26:16

Have you ever felt God calling you for a particular purpose?  Have you ever wondered what God was thinking?

I have, on both accounts.  I have felt God asking me on more than one occasion to step up and do something that I felt highly unqualified for.  Perhaps the most significant instance of this is feeling called to be a voice for Christian unity and positive interfaith relations.  Certainly, the most recent calling I have felt is to guide the high school youth of our church.

These are both unlikely callings.   I grew up in a family that never talked about faith (or sex, or politics, or anything else controversial -- these were very private matters and better left that way); a true blue introvert, I would rather write my thoughts, especially about faith, down in my journal that stand up in a crowd and voice them; and, in the face of discord, my first instinct is to flee, not pursue common ground.

However, I also have an abiding passion for inclusion, a deep love for Jesus, his life, and his teachings, I care deeply about education, and I feel that God is with me each day on the journey of faith.  So maybe these callings are not so completely far-fetched after all. 

Besides, the Bible is filled with examples of people being called for a specific purpose. In every case, God calls the least likely, but also the most fitting.

Just think of Moses:  a man who had difficulty speaking is called to be God's spokesperson; Moses was also the only Hebrew who had lived in the Pharaoh's household and therefore the only one able to address the Pharaoh directly.

Or Paul:  a tireless zealot who persecuted "the followers of The Way" is called to be Jesus's apostle to the Gentiles across the entire Mediterranean; Paul was also a highly educated Pharisee who grew up a Roman citizen in the city of Tarsus, and therefore able to speak and write persuasively to both Jews and Gentiles.

Or St Francis:  the rich man's spoiled son with a disease phobia, who avoided church whenever possible, felt called to live in poverty, rebuild God's church, and heal lepers with a gentle touch.

Or Gandhi:  the diminutive, high-caste Hindu lawyer, trained in London, is called to resist the might of the British Empire and ease the burdens of those in the lowest rung of the caste system.

I also think of Eben Alexander, whose book "Proof of Heaven" I read recently.  Dr. Alexander was a neurosurgeon with no faith in God.  He had always explained away his patients' near-death experiences as creations of impaired brains, until he had his own near-death experience in which his  brain ceased functioning for six days.  He returned to life on the seventh day, and upon full recovery, he felt singularly compelled to explain from a neurosurgeon's point of view just how miraculous those six days were.

And I think of a friend of mine:  a loving grandmother/caregiver who has always had a fear of being a victim of violence, feels called to actively fight for stricter gun-control laws on behalf of children even though this requires her to face some very angry, threatening men.

I wonder... Does God call people not only because they have a particular passion, but because they need to address certain mental handicaps, certain fears or roadblocks that are preventing them from living the most abundant and love-filled life they can?

I think it's quite possible.  I have certainly grown by leaps and bounds in my efforts to promote Christian unity.  I have had to learn to speak my mind about faith, with friends, family members, strangers, and church leaders.  I've even learned to voice opinions that are quite contrary.  Though difficult at times, this has truly enriched my life.  For, being true to yourself, and honoring who God created you to be, is a blessing.  A blessing that must be shared.

So maybe one way to test whether God is truly calling you is to not only consider what is extremely important to you, but also how keenly motivated you are to face every obstacle, what you fear or what you try to avoid, in order to accomplish it.

Dear God, thank you for the many examples around me and throughout history of those who listened to your call.  May I learn to share with others all that you have given me.  Love always, Pam


Elizabeth said...

Hello dear friend,
Watching God work in you is inspiring to me. Knowing God works in me the same way as you, validates my experience of him and encourages me to continue on this path even when I feel discouraged. I love that God gives us friends in our lives that help us know we are not alone in our quest for unity, love, compassion and kindness. I love you, Elizabeth

Pamela Keane said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. You are an example for me, too, and a blessing on this journey of faith.