As we are going through the Calling Sermon Series, I have taken out the reel-to-reel film (remember those from school?) of the art project called, “My Life” to rewind and remember where I sensed God’s movement and motion in my life. I am recalling where I felt God swirling and stirring and calling. Remember, calling is never finished. Remember, calling can take time ~ twenty-five years for Abraham and Sarah to welcome Isaac or the countless, untold years for Hannah to welcome Samuel. Moreover, our calling may not work out exactly as we plotted and planned. (as I said Sunday, there is the life you plan and the one you live). Think of Moses never getting to put his pinkie toe into the Promised Land, he never got to taste the milk and honey. Most of the prophets we have studied (outside of Jonah) did not convince or convert people to hear God’s wisdom or to change ~ something I hold in my heart when I stand to preach each Sunday. Our calling may not have spectacular results or a legacy with its own Wikipedia page.
I looking back, I grew up going in the church. I was in the children’s choir, Christmas pageants, and I even got perfect attendance pins for Sunday School. I can remember the adult choir sang from a balcony at the back of the church. At the end of the service they would sing, “Shalom be with you.” I always turned around to watch. I sensed God’s peace (which is what the Hebrew word, “Shalom” means) in that moment. In middle school, I began going to summer camps and youth gatherings sponsored by UCC. While there was never a bolt of lightening with God’s voice saying, “Thou shalt be a pastor, Wesley”, there was a slow, steady sense of the Spirit guiding me toward serving the church. I had this peace/shalom when I was at church on Sundays or youth gatherings. I felt most alive and most authentically myself in these settings. While I did a brief stint in customer service for a credit card company after graduating college, I began investing and applying to seminaries after just a few months of working in that business setting.
I know in Scripture it is often dramatic, Divine moments of God interrupting and intentionally calling someone to be a prophet or to a new way of life. For me, it was a bit more subtle. There were bread crumb moments of God’s leading grace along the way. God leading me on a savory pace toward seminary. God spoke to me through moments of being out in creation as a counselor at camp or when I was canoeing on a lake. God helped me in crafting early sermons and feeling people’s support. God moved through pastors who showed up in my life to help support, love, and suggest to me, “Maybe you should think about seminary.” There was no neon sign. There was no blinding light or booming voice. Just seeds of the sacred planted, tended, until my soul was ready to take this path toward being a pastor.
Callings can happen both slowly over time and dramatically when you know you have to do something now! When you look back at your life, how do you sense God’s guidance and nudging you within your history/story? Was it one moment your soul surged, and your heart said emphatically, “Yes,” to an opportunity? Or was the movement toward your calling more gradual and gentler? Or perhaps, it was a bit of both.
I invite you to review the reel-to-reel film of your life today as you think about your calling and where you might be calling on or being called upon by the Holy to move in these days. May God bless such mediations today.