If you spend time around a seminary, a group of pastors, or anyone connected with theological education and formation, then you must have noticed our penchant for talking about call. Application essays and first semesters are often filled with “call assignments.”
Tell us the story of your call.
How did you discern your call?
Which stories of call in Scripture do you most resonate?
As your education continues, there’s the ubiquitous questioning of call. Deep in the wilds of theological education, it’s easy to wonder where God hides. Is this refining fire really part of the process? Is it possible to climb under the covers at night as the same person who crawled out of them this morning? I spent many a late night debating and debunking theological concepts and wrestling with my sense of call. Once the official education process draws to a close, the question of call becomes much more specific and contextual. The conversation continues in many pastoral circles…where is God calling me now?
For all the time spent asking this question of call, I never heard people discuss the experience of being “called out.” By that I mean having this deep, inner knowing that your dance card is no longer full. That it is time to leave the party and gracefully bow out. This inner-knowing of “well done good and faithful servant.” All the stories I’ve heard have been called to.
I wonder if I am unique in experiencing this sense of called out. And let me be clear, I don’t mean cutting and running. I mean this knowing that in the midst of prayer the still small voice whispers, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I mean the same sense of called to in that suddenly you are walking on holy ground. You might not be able to see or describe the next step. You simply know it will be well. And trust yourself and God to take the next right step. That same sense of call but simply a call out rather than a call in.
Similar to saying yes to the invitation of the call in, accepting the invitation to the call out seems to lead to the wilderness. But for me this wilderness does not feel like a desert of arid terrain and temptation. It feels like an oasis. As foreign as the landscape seems, I have found nothing but manna.