When I was a little girl, I had an undisputable calling. I thought about the call all the time and played it out every day with my sister, brother and neighbor friends. I had a distinct call from God that I was supposed to be a mom, so I lived it out by playing dolls and “house” with anyone who would play with me.
At first I wanted nine children. I grew up in the Chicago area, and watched the Cubs play at 1:05p.m. almost every afternoon on our black and white TV. If I had nine children, I could have my own baseball team! In my teen and young adult years I became more practical and settled on five children. However, after I got married and began a family, God clearly made me see that I was only called to have three. Last week my youngest child turned eighteen. I fulfilled my call! It has been more rewarding than frustrating, and I am now on the cusp of a new chapter in my life.
Early in my childhood, I had the vague sense of another calling. I also thought about God all the time. Year after year, the foggy awareness of being called into ordained ministry slowly became clearer. So when my youngest child began kindergarten, I began seminary at Saint Paul School of Theology. That was when I began to grapple with what seemed to be divergent calls from God. All of the people Jesus called in the gospels dropped everything, left their families, and followed him in his ministry. The thought of me leaving everything behind including my family seemed absurd, yet the biblical narrative gnawed at me, leaving me fretting for days. For a season, I prayed to God for clarity and wrestled with which call from God I was supposed to sacrifice for the other. I never received an answer to this specific prayer, but I stepped out in faith, and to the best of my ability, balanced both calls.
About a month ago, twelve years after my grappling, wrestling and fretting, I read the story of Lydia in Acts 16. Lydia was a self-sufficient, successful businesswoman in the textile industry and homeowner who also had the gift of hospitality. When she heard the gospel message from Paul, her heart was opened and she and all of the members of her household were baptized. The story suggests that her home became the spiritual center for the entire city, and she became its spiritual leader. Lydia fulfilled her simultaneous call as a spiritual leader and as a homemaker and businesswoman. This biblical text gave me confirmation and assurance from God that I was indeed faithfully living out my calls. Twelve years later, I finally received the answer to the prayer that I had been longing for.
So as you ponder the nature of your call this week through messages of the sermon and GPS guide, the prayer tip in this is simple. Sometimes God says, “Yes,” sometimes God says, “No,” and very often God says, “Wait—I will reveal your answer at the right time.”
—Nancy Pauls, Pastor of Prayer.