When talking about God’s calling on my life, I immediately think of Eric Liddell and what he said about his calling: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” It is something that I look for in my own life. What kind of work have I done that I feel God being pleased at in my life? And what do I get good, honest pleasure out of? I feel this has a lot to do with our abilities. God made us the way we are for a reason, and unless we use our abilities, we will not be “running” in such a way that it feels so right and so glorifying to God.
Granted, we won’t use all our abilities all our lives. Even in my short life so far, I’ve used many of my different talents at different times. Sometimes I’ve used more than one at once. Sometimes just one stood out. And it’s not that my ideal occupation will fulfill all of my abilities. I think that would be quite impossible! Not that I have thousands of abilities, but my abilities are varied. I don’t, for example, see myself playing with children (a “skill” of mine) at the same time as helping foreign adults tackle basic English (another skill). Perhaps those two talents could coincide one day, but I see them more likely playing out at different times, or at least in different situations. And that is fine. It is not like we are called to just one area of life. Some may be. But I think that is really the exception.
Circumstances also have a lot to do with one’s calling. We can make our way in the world, but not as much as the American dream would lead us to believe. We are products of our families, our life situations, our financial situations (can we afford our next meal? how about college?), the people we meet, the place we live in, the education we get, etc. A lot of these things are out of our control, but they are not out of God’s control. He very often uses circumstances to shape us into who we are and what we do. Jobs are most often gotten through networking–through someone you know alerting you to a job that may be good for you; jobs are much less often gotten by searching an online database to find the ideal job you want. God uses people and situations to put us where he wants us to be.
Calling also has to do with where we are. What are our present responsibilities? Those are, without a doubt, our calling. God would never call a wife to forsake her husband and children to run after some other calling. God would not hold a prisoner’s present calling someplace outside of the jail cell (the prisoner’s present calling would be right there in the place he cannot escape from). Our places of responsibility are our calling. There is no question about that.
Do I have a pretty good idea of what God is calling me to the future? No, I don’t, at least not in the distant future. Right now I believe he is calling me to teaching. Situations are pointing in that direction. Opportunities are likewise (this is one opportunity that went looking for me, rather than the other way around!). People around me seem to agree that it appears to be right for me. I feel it is right myself. And when I’ve done things in the past similar to teaching, it has felt so right. When I have instructed and helped others in the past, I have felt energized (a good indication), I have felt fulfilled, I have felt happy, and I have felt like I had a purpose. I can’t say this is my “permanent” calling because I have felt some of these things about other occupations (like graphic design and working with little kids), but it appears to be my calling right now. And my feelings on this matter are all through experience, other people’s counsel, my own feelings, and circumstances. Nothing supernatural. Although God can and does work supernaturally, I believe he most often speaks to us through the way things work out in the world and in our lives. After all, he is behind it all.
As for the rest of my future? Only God knows!