Waiting to be Called
Good afternoon from Managua, Nicaragua!
What does it mean to be “called”, and how do you know when it has happen to you? This is a topic of conversation for many people, both inside and outside of Christianity. I have found that it is especially prevalent among people in their twenties and early thirties. In fact, I have personally had or heard about many conversations in which a person has expressed feeling paralyzed by the question of calling. Both in the United States and Nicaragua, I have met many people who are waiting to a feel a sense of calling toward something or for God to call them to do something. Personally, I have felt the tension that comes from feeling stuck in a waiting pattern, wondering if your number is ever going to be called. What are we supposed to do when we are in that incredibly frustrating place?
The truth is, I do not have a perfect answer to this question, but as a person who felt called to go to Nicaragua, I can speak to my experience. Many times we think of finding our calling or niche in life as singular point in time, but that was not true for me in the case of Nicaragua. In 2007, when I first came to Nicaragua, I never thought it would be more than a place I would travel to once or twice a year. I never felt called to leave my life in the United States to serve in Nicaragua. In actuality, quite the contrary was true. I was involved in many great things back in the U.S., both professionally and socially, and could not imagine giving them up to head in a different direction. I did not feel particularly called to any one thing, but the pattern of my life was pretty nice. With that said, there were some points of frustration in my life that I did not understand such as why I had not found “the one” and what exactly God wanted me to do to make a difference in the world for the long term. Despite those frustrations, I kept walking down the path in front of me at the time and continued to travel to Nicaragua a few times a year. I will leave the full story of how I ended up in Nicaragua for another blog post, but in January of 2011 I felt a clear calling from God to move to Nicaragua for a few years.
Looking back on the journey that preceded my move to Nicaragua, I now realize that it was one part preparing me for my time here and one part living into the calling I had at that moment. From my work experience, to opportunities to lead in the church and with other organizations, to being involved in discipleship, to traveling to Nicaragua, to having the opportunity to grow up, and more, all of my experiences better prepared me for the adventure I am currently on in Nicaragua. I would go as far as to say that I believe I would not be able to do the things I am doing in Nicaragua had I not spent the years before unknowingly preparing. I also now understand that many of the things I was doing before Nicaragua were a calling in themselves. At that time, I was called to be faithful to whatever God put in front of me each day. The truth is I am still called to the same thing today.
Over the past few years, I have learned that finding your calling in life often means living into the God has you today. It could be that what you are doing today is exactly what is necessary to prepare you for the next part of God’s plan for your life. It is also very possible that you might find out that what you are doing today is the calling you were hoping for; you just had to stop waiting for the next big thing. “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.'” (Matthew 4:19, NIV) These were the words Jesus used to call Peter to become one of his disciples. At another point Jesus told Peter that he would play a major role in founding the Christian church. What is interesting is that there was quite a bit of time between Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and the moment when fruition of God’s ultimate plan for Peter’s life. Peter had to be faithful each day as God prepared him to be the person he would ultimately become.
We must do the same. Our calling is to be faithful to what God puts in front of us today, knowing that in the end he has the best plan for our lives. While this can be hard at times, it is a necessary part of the process and, in my experience, the only way we will be ready for what adventure God has planned next.
– James Belt