One of the great themes of our faith is that of call-the belief that God actively calls individuals into particular ways of life. In the weeks past, we have read about John the Baptist, responding to his call to be the voice calling in the wilderness. We have read about Mary, accepting her call to bear God’s own son. In the weeks to come, we will read about the magi, following a call sent through a star; about Jesus, wrestling with his call in the wilderness; about the disciples, answering Jesus’ call to become fishers of people.
God called then and God calls now.
For most of us, of course, God’s call does not involve angels, stars, voices from heaven or a personal invitation from Jesus. Our calls, most of the time, are less precise and much harder to decipher.
The absence of such miraculous clarity may not, however, be the key difference between our calls and those of our biblical forebears. The key difference may be that their experiences have been written down after the fact-refined into stories to inspire and teach the generations. The stories make it look all neat and final, but that’s what stories tend to do. Who knows what kinds of preparation Mary may have had to make to be ready to consent to God’s plan? Who knows how many stars the magi considered before finding the right one? Who knows how many people whispered into Jesus’ ear before he finally sought out his baptism and heard the voice of God? Who knows how secretly dissatisfied the disciples already were with their lives on the sea?
God’s call is not a once for all kind of thing-at least, not for most of us and not most of the time. More often, we catch only pieces of God’s call and must simply follow as best we can-step by step, piece by piece, trusting that we are moving in the right direction and that it will all make sense in time.
This kind of call is not as dramatic as the stories in the Bible. But this kind of faithfulness prepares us for drama, should drama ever be demanded of us. And, if it isn’t, this kind of faithfulness offers its own rewards. It may not be a life of comfort or a life of success in the eyes of the world. But a life lived in steady response to God’s call is sure to be a life of deep blessing to those around us and of deep satisfaction to ourselves-even if we don’t always hear it quite right. This can be hard to believe when we are in the throes of it, feeling lost and unsure of what to do and who to be. Sometimes, it feels like it’s all up to us and we are almost certain to get it wrong.
Thankfully, God’s faithfulness is greater than ours. If we are but willing, God can turn all our meanderings into fruitful steps along the way, until, looking back, our stories shine with a miraculous clarity and we marvel at the goodness of God.