There are days that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am Called to this work of chaplaincy. You’d think it would be the days where I get positive feedback and lots of “atta girls.” Well, yes, of course. But it’s the upside down, days-in-pieces moments too.
When I was first discerning whether or not to go to seminary, I sat and talked with a trusted pastor and mentor, Bill. I was hesitant. How could I know for sure? His advice was priceless: “Deb, if you can do go anything else, then do it. If you try, and nothing else makes your heart sing, even on the good days, then go serve God with everything you’ve got. You’re doing what God has Called you to do.”
We went on to talk about how vocational Callings are there for everyone. For some of us it’s education. For others it’s medicine or entrepreneurship or technology. But for pastors and preachers and chaplains… it is less often a “GO YE THEREFORE” moment, and more like a quiet, insistent tug. I’m reminded of what Frederick Buechner said: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
We had that conversation over 10 years ago. It still rings true. It’s the days where I drag myself home, overextended, frustrated with traffic and yet still sure down to my toes that God does some amazing things… and I get to participate. I may be broken, hurt and frustrated, yet I know that I that I know I’m doing what God has tasked me to do.
That, my friends, is a Calling.
Early this morning as I tried to stay awake in between phone calls, I was reading in Ecclesiastes 3. The first part of that chapter is probably more familiar to most of us… “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven…” (I’ll wait while you hum through the next verses!)
Reading further in the chapter though, are some verses that give perspective when things are less than peachy. At least, they do for me.
9 What do we gain by all of our hard work? 10 I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. 11 God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. 12 I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, 13 because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. 14 Everything God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship him.
15 Everything that happens has happened before, and all that will be has already been—God does everything over and over again. (Ecclesiastes 3, CEV)
I heard a new song (new to me) that reminded me in the good AND bad, God is there and makes everything beautiful in its own time. God makes everything happen at the RIGHT time. Even in brokenness, I can say “thank you” and have a little scrap of faith left to do this job again tomorrow.
Wherever you are today, I hope these words give you encouragement to go and do the next thing God asks of you.
There will be days
That give me more than I can take
But I know you always make
Beauty from my heartache.
You’re the reason for Every Good Thing…
Every Good Thing by The Afters