one striving for God's reign to come to earth, bringing his peace, wholeness, completeness, and health to all aspects of life.

The Olympics, God's Call, and Shalom

As I was watching some of the Olympics last night, some thoughts occurred to me about the goals we give ourselves to, the calling or vocation we dedicate our lives to.  I have been thinking a lot about calling lately, about how each of us has one life and a limited supply of days and months and years with which to "pursue our calling."  To back up and talk about what calling is briefly (you can see the previous posting on primary/secondary calling for more), I believe calling to be all about the Caller.  My calling is what God has specifically designed me to be and to do for him, and I discover that calling in the midst of my relationship with him.  Though we all have the same primary calling, to love and follow Christ, to be Shalomers in essence, our secondary callings are our specific calling from God.  And I believe he knows each of us, and has a plan for each of us, and is calling each of us to something special.

In other words, I don't think we go to seminars and read books on our personality types, fill out surveys on what jobs might work for us, and then choose from an arbitrary list of possible job fits.  These methods may actually help us in discerning what God is calling us to, but we can never discover our true calling outside of our relationship with him, because "calling" assumes a Caller.

Anyway, what does all of this have to do with the Olympics?  Well I was watching the female mogul skiers last night, and each time one of them would get a little too much air in one of her jumps and would fall down, the thought hit me: Oh my goodness--this girl has been training for the past four years, and probably for much longer than that, in order to be at these Olympics and compete.  And she just fell down.  Her dream is over.  All her work has come to naught, at least insofar as she was training with the purpose of winning a medal for herself and her country.  It's over.  Better luck in four years.

How sad is that!  And then the thought hit me that perhaps she has been in training this whole time for something she was never called to do.  Now this is not for me or anyone else to judge: whether someone else is properly pursuing his or her calling.  We each have enough trouble trying to figure out what OUR OWN calling is to worry about others.  But if we want to be about partnering with God in this world to bring his Kingdom, his Shalom, and if we want to be about helping to right the wrongs of this world for God's glory, I think we can say that some things are probably not worth pursuing.

We only get one life, after all.  I was trying to explain to my oldest daughter about age, and about how her sister is not actually 0, but is 5 months old.  She, I explained, is 41 months old, and her daddy is something like 300 months old.  (She was staring at me blankly throughout this conversation, and I realized this was all a little abstract for her 3 year-old mind).  But the point is that we only get a certain number of months, don't we?  And then they are all used up.  Further, we may get many fewer months than we envisioned or planned on.

What does all of this mean?  Well I believe God is calling you and I to something special, something big.  I believe he has important plans for each of our lives, and if we will open our minds and hearts and seek that out, he will lead us to a place we never imagined, but to a place that is so much greater than where we could or would have taken ourselves.  If we will earnestly ask God to make his vision for our lives our vision, I believe he'll reveal a call for our lives that is more dangerous than we are comfortable with, but more exciting and meaningful than we could have imagined!

Let us not seek out a "good job", or a comfortable lifestyle, or a nice salary, or whatever.  Let us seek out Christ, and let us be passionate about using our only life to partner with God to bring his Shalom to this world.  Let us follow after Jesus in giving away our lives for the sake of something bigger than ourselves, so that we will not have bought into the great American lie and lived our lives for ourselves, for something less than eternal, for nothing...


Anonymous February 14, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

How do you know that even in failure the mogul skier in fact is not receiving her "calling"? Perhaps the experience is key to the preparation of her calling. Do you think there is a calling without preparation? I think of Esther and everything leading up to "such a time as this." Henri Nouwen and others say they enter eternal life upon receipt of Christ's gift to us - that eternal life isn't something that comes after the end of the physical existance but we who believe have entered into that state in the presence. If such is true I no longer worry about my race against time - I have eternity.

Kevin Bobrow February 14, 2010 at 10:29 PM  

I do not know, and like I said, it is not my place to judge anyone else's calling. I am just saying that I think many of us give ourselves to "small stories," as Donald Miller says. We give our lives to things that do not matter much, or will not last, or are not directed toward God but only toward "success" or making a good living. Whatever stage of life we are at, I think we need to re-think our mindset and decide to seek out what God is calling us to do with each day (and in a more specific "calling" sense) to partner with him in bringing his Kingdom.

I would say that certainly we can go down many different paths, and look back and see how God used those paths for preparation, even though we had no clue at the time. And I do not believe in any sense that only "spiritual" jobs like pastoring are partnering with God. Any job can theoretically qualify, as God calls people to be musicians and business people and even lawyers! :) It's all about whether we are listening to God's voice and responding...

As for the "eternal life" thoughts, I think have hit on a very important issue, one that is fundamental to this blog. I fully believe that God has not saved us for heaven, so that we should sit around and wait for that day, in the meantime deploring this terrible, sinful world. Not at all! God has saved us for right now, and that is exactly what my thoughts on calling relate to! We ought not to be happy and satisfied that Christ has saved us from our sins and we are going to heaven one day, and then proceed to do whatever it is we want with our lives. We ought to begin working for the Kingdom the day we sign on as followers of Christ (as you mention). And so we ought to seek out God's calling on our lives each day and each year, knowing that our time is limited (whether we are currently 20 or 80), and seeking to use the time we have to partner with God to right the wrongs of this world...

So no, you don't have to worry about running out of time, as in a sense you are living the eternal life now. But at the same time, we all have to worry and assess whether what we are doing with our lives is going to last for eternity, or whether (as I suspect in the case of the Olympic athletes) we are giving ourselves to goals and passions that will not last...

Anonymous February 15, 2010 at 6:54 PM  

I agree with with your reference to "small" callings that we use to justify and rationalize paths we sometimes prefer or use as excuses to refuse a larger calling. Bonhoeffer does indicate that we may only contribute a single note to the symphony of eternity - and how it is important that we do contribute the note. Gale

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