(Thanks to Today's Christian Woman, running this article today. Here's the first page. Please follow the link to finish! And spread the Good News, if you will!)
I’m standing on the beach, surrounded by fishing nets and rotting jellyfish. My hands are cramping after three days of morning-until-night mending net this week, which includes yanking the gloppy jellyfish from the web.
I’m happy to be working with my husband and sons, but I’m ready for a rescue. I’m ready for Jesus to come strolling along our Alaskan beach like he did the shores of Galilee with this simple deliverance to those fishermen, “Come, follow me!”
And why not? Jesus called those fishermen away from their nets to a higher pursuit, “go and be catchers of men.” Of course they said yes! Who wouldn’t ditch the fish for souls instead? But while I’m on board to jump ship and drop the nets, especially this week, I am troubled as well. Christ’s words seem to imply a world divided into flesh and spirit, into sacred and secular. And we know that first call was amplified in Jesus’ final charge before his ascent to heaven, that we’re to “go out into all the world, baptizing and making disciples of every nation.” I remember pondering this years earlier, when immersed in another kind of dirty work: changing diapers, hauling baskets of molding laundry, scraping dried food under the high chair.
If Jesus called the fishermen-disciples away from their mundane labors toward a higher calling, what about the rest of us, armpits deep in daily sludge? Surely Jesus is calling us to more! Surely we are doing lesser work than those in ‘full-time Christian service” who are living extraordinary make-a-difference lives!
I hear this struggle from so many around me. A middle-aged friend who teaches health at a Christian high school confides in me one night that she’s not doing enough for God. She is thinking she’s being called to resign to begin a ministry for abused women in Mexico. A neighbor making dinner for her large family hears the evening news, sees the refugees and feels like she is wasting her life in floor polish and toilet bowl cleaner. Another friend who homeschools her four children questions this “calling,” wondering if God is asking her to serve abroad somewhere.
It’s little wonder we wrestle over this. For believers, “Calling” is serious business. The word itself comes from the Latin vocatio, from which we get our word “vocation,” and the Greek kaleo, both meaning literally, simply, “to call.” We use the term meaning more than a strong pull toward a particular line of work or activity, as it’s often used in a non-religious context. We believe the caller is God himself and that the one who is “called” is chosen particularly for nothing less than God-appointed work.
We join a long history of angst and confusion over calling, fed in part by these very gospel passages, and, fed as well by the Church, both Catholic and Protestant. Through the centuries, both often created a social hierarchy with the clergy on top and the commoners who made bricks, milked cows, mucked stalls on the bottom. Evangelicals have played their part as well. Those who join the clergy or become missionaries or in some way enter “full-time Christian service” are clearly doing more for the kingdom than the rest of us going about our simple daily commerce.
Or Not?? I think you'll find clarity and hope as the essay continues here, at Today's Christian Woman.
Thank you for being here! Coming next: Scenes from our local production of "Tarzan" in which I play ever-so-apishly, a primate. In the jungle. In costume, yes, walking on my knuckles. I'm SURE there's something here of value to our spirits and lives. And there is.