When Jesus Doesn't Call You On The Phone

{This week’s series was born out of our recent visit to Dordt College. I pray it will be an encouragement to anyone in the season of Big Life Decisioning. #ChristCalling}

{This week’s series was born out of our recent visit to Dordt College. I pray it will be an encouragement to anyone in the season of Big Life Decisioning. #ChristCalling}

I remember sitting in a room full of swiveling chairs, approaching my final semester of college and wondering, What’s next, Lord?

It can be an exciting question to ask, full of awe at a world exploding with options of places and peoples. But it can also be a question filled with anxieties:

No, seriously, WHAT’S NEXT, LORD?!

As my husband and I stood in front of a room of college seniors in their own swivel chairs a week and a half ago, I understood what a blessing six years of post-college-graduation hindsight can be. It’s easy to look back now and say that God faithfully led us from one thing to the next, mercifully opening and closing different doors for us.

But it wasn’t always easy when we were standing in the hallway staring at Doors 1, 2, and 3, and being forced to pick one. Or feeling like there were no doors to choose from at all. We felt the weight of that hallway before we chose to move to Guatemala, before we chose to move back to the United States, and before we chose to move from Chicago to Milwaukee. We really wished Jesus had posted a few billboards to specifically direct our paths, but He didn’t.

Each decision felt a lot more like a blind leap of faith, preceded by a lot of prayer.

And I say that because I think many young adult Christians on the brink of graduation, and any others going through Big Life Decisioning are worried they’ll get it wrong.

At least, that’s how I felt: What if I make the wrong choice and get the wrong job and move to the wrong place and marry the wrong guy? How do I figure out who, where, when, and what God is CALLING me to do?

It’s so easy to get caught up on that word “calling.”

A few years ago I visited my aunt a few states away, and lying on her countertop was a letter from a couple asking for money to go on a mission trip. According to the letter, Jesus had “called them to the mission field.”

“I wonder what they meant whenthey claimed that Jesus called them,” my aunt said. “I wish Jesus would call me on the phone and tell me what to do.”

Now, I know I’m getting caught up in semantics here. I have no doubt that God puts specific desires in each of our hearts, and that He leads us to go to specific places in order to do something in particular, sometimes with a certain someone. But those are jobs, art forms, and marriages.

But our collective calling as Christians expands beyond our outward circumstances, because it is something that can’t be taken away even when our outward circumstances change. It is applicable to all Christians – the poorest living in the slumlands of Guatemala, and the wealthiest living in the suburbs of Orange County. The single woman and the married man. The one working at McDonald’s and the one working for the government.

Our brethren Job lived out his calling when his children, his work, and his health were taken from him in a single swoop. The apostle Paul lived out his calling as a single man in prison. Let that sink in for a moment.

So, what is our calling as Christians?

What underlies everything we do and everywhere we go and everything we strive to be? Jesus doesn’t promise to call each of us on the phone, but He speaks to us in Scripture. And when we read it, it becomes clear He is way more worried about the condition of our hearts than the accomplishments on our resumes:

Seek after and follow Christ alone. {Matthew 6:33, 16:24}

Tell people about Christ. {Matthew 28:19}

Glorify Christ. {Colossians 3:17}

Love Christ and other people. {Mark 12:31}

Of course, this calling is something that can be lived out in our outward circumstances. And I should mention that if you are the prophet Jonah then you best be getting your butt on a specific boat to Nineveh. But I don’t remember Jesus texting my phone, “Hey – meet me in Guatemala in 2011.”

So if Jesus doesn’t call us on the phone, how do we answer the question, What’s next?

My dad helped me out a lot with this at my own crossroads in my early twenties. When I lamented my inability to predict the future and make a perfectly calculated decision about what to do with my life, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “If you are praying and asking for wisdom and you aren’t being given clear signs from Heaven, then do what you want to do.”

He didn’t mean that in a secularly whimsical, “follow your heart” kind of advice. He was making the point that if our hearts are seeking and following after Christ alone, we can trust the brains Jesus gave us to make choices in regards to our occupation, location, and families that will honor Him. And even more so, we can trust God to mercifully open and close doors along the way.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. {Psalm 37:3-4}

When we moved back from Guatemala, we felt a strong desire to move to the inner city, but God closed every door except to a little suburb of Chicago. We needed to pay the bills, so we took the job. And although we saw it as a stepping-stone to where we wanted to go, a lot happened in those two years, and we met people that I can't imagine my life without. But one thing God reminded us is that we could live out our calling to love Him and love others while we were in our own hallway.

So if you find yourself standing in a hallway staring at a hundred doors or none at all, keep living out your grand calling to seek after and to glorify Christ, and to love other people by showing them Christ’s love.

Know that your big life decisions might feel more like giant leaps of faith wrapped up in earnest prayer than they do a GPS shouting at you in a British accent to turn left.

And trust that down the road, you will have plenty of hindsight to look back and see that God’s hand was faithfully orchestrating your steps all along.

Because He promises that if you trust and acknowledge Him, He will direct your path.

 

Grace and Peace,

Kendra