“The unexamined life,” said Socrates, “is not worth living.” However, too many autopsies can bleed us to death. The problem with self-examination is potential paralysis. It’s hard to enjoy the sunset when you’re fixated on the mirror.
So I continue my ruminations on calling with trepidation. I desperately want to be on the right path, but if I think too hard about it, I’ll never move forward. Besides, can we ever really know, without a doubt, that we’re on the right path? Perhaps it’s enough that we’re aimed in the general direction. After all, the father of the faith didn’t have all the details before he pulled up stakes.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8 NIV).
What?! He “went… not knowing where he was going”? This grates against everything I am. I abhor agenda-less meetings and rudder-less vacations. I need maps and blueprints and timetables. This faith stuff is taxing for a control freak like me.
But I’m beginning to wonder if faith isn’t the heartbeat of calling.
Blaise Pascal, in his delightful collection of musings entitled PensÃ©es , suggested that God is both hidden and revealed. “If there were no obscurity,” Pascal says, “man would not feel his corruption: if there were no light, man could not hope for a cure.” So God reveals enough of Himself to make faith reasonable, but not so much of Himself, that faith is unnecessary.
I wonder if the same isn’t true about calling — it’s both hidden and revealed. God blesses us with individual talents and giftings, hunches and impulses that steer and shape us. But He won’t force us to use those gifts and follow those hunches. In fact, we may bury the talent if we so choose. In other words, God points us in the general direction, but He won’t drag us along the path. It reminds me of the oft-quoted Scripture:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 WEB)
Isn’t that what a call is? Literally? It’s a Voice beckoning to us from the other side; it’s a knock on the door of our heart. Jesus could easily blow the door off its hinges; nevertheless, He stands, like a gentleman, and knocks. Why?
Because a call is incomplete without an answer.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ (Isaiah 6:8).Â
“I heard… I said.” A call. An answer.
But here I am, scalpel in hand, waiting for more. It’s not enough that I hear the Voice or the Knock. I need a blueprint or a map, a telescope to see down the road and a safety net to catch me if I fall. Meanwhile, I’m bleeding myself to death through introspection. Maybe God’s given me everything I need to know about my calling. Now He’s simply waiting for my response. And herein lies the problem, because the next step is the one I fear the most — the step of faith.