I remember seeing a mural painted on the stairway in a seminary; it read, God calls once, your answer is forever. It impressed me and somewhere in my cranium I never forgot those words. The question above should remind all of us, no matter what our calling in life is about, to respond in some manner to that call.
Vocations begin somewhere between the letters A and Z. Anthropologist to Zoologist. Anywhere in between those letters lies our calling. Most times we may not see at first glance the position we are being urged to follow. In time we may be hit with a sign that awakens a dormant challenge to seek the path we never thought of until something like a bolt of lightning strikes us. Then the passage of visions somehow will open to us a world that may be what we always dreamt about. There may be questions as to our abilities to enter this new life style, but if God has called us He will see us through.
Of course, history has shown us that some whom God called, as in a number of prophets, the hesitation was more than a simple reply of yes I will follow. Moses, Jeremiah, and Jonah hesitated to God before accepting His mission. They seemed not to want the job.
Moses feared that he could not persuade Pharaoh by himself. Then God told Moses, “Yet I know that the king of Egypt will let you go only because of a greater might”. (Ex. 3: 19).
How many times in your own beginnings have doubts popped up and presented reasons to quit before you began?
In the midrash, Jonah feared the impending Assyrian Empire exiling of the 10 tribes. Jonah persisted to God: “O Lord! Isn’t this just what I said when I was still in my own country? That is why I fled beforehand to Tarshish”. (Jonah 4: 2).
Can you see some of the experiences of your own reasoning as to why this choice may not be the one you should follow? At times we must discern the thoughts that plague or test the waters ahead.
During the midrash, Jeremiah was afraid of King Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon and the impending destruction of the Holy Temple and the State of Israel , and then 70 years of exile. He hesitated, until God reminded him saying; “Before I created you in the womb, I selected you; Before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations”. I then replied; “Ah Lord God! I don’t know how to speak, for I am still a boy”. (Jer. 1: 5-6).
Remember different times when the opportunity to move into a new vocation without the necessary qualifications to fulfill this venture were uppermost in our minds. Where do I begin or will I be able to stand up to the challenges required for this move?
God will assuredly call each one to what He deems necessary for His Plan to share His Life and Love with us. I like to compare the pattern of God’s choices as a giant puzzle. No two pieces are exactly alike, yet each one must fit to ensure that the complete picture one day will reflect God and His Genuine Love for humanity’s place with Him. When one piece is dropped in a darkened room the search for it might require diligence and care to retrieve it for the sake of the rest that are still being joined one to another. Be certain, that only God already can view the finished picture which is a kaleidoscope so beautiful that no one person can ever imagine the beauty of the finished artwork God planned before time.
Think for a moment if you had not followed the path laid out for you. You might not be that doctor, teacher, mother or father. And if you are in a position without a PHD or MA, your vocation is no less important than anyone else. Remember Paul’s explanation of the parts of the body? “Or if an ear should say because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, it does not for this reason belong any less to the body”. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?”
(I Cor. 12: 16-17).
We like to believe that each of us has followed the path laid out for us and shout out, “I fit this wonderful picture God has created”!
Ralph B. Hathaway, January 2019