By Barbara Martin
How do I know I’m living my calling?
QUESTION: How does one know they are living out their calling or life purpose?
As a senior in high school, I was voted the girl most likely to succeed. This was a nice accolade, but it put a great deal of pressure on me to figure out what success was for me. I walked through my early life hoping and praying that I would live up to this expectation. I thought living up to my calling meant doing something flashy and amazing.
When I got married at 21 and had children by 22, I learned quickly that my idea of living out my calling and God’s idea of me living out my calling were different. Being a mom was not flashy. There were so many days during that time when I questioned God in His purpose for me. Was this it? I wondered, “I am alone with my children and my husband most days, so God, is this enough for You?” I felt confused and often alone and defeated.
I loved being a stay-at-home mom and I love my three sons. Looking back now, I would not trade that time for anything, but this did not seem like the life purpose the “girl most likely to succeed” should be living.
As I ponder this now, I see it through the lens of what my chief calling actually is.
When Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Isn’t this our chief calling in life?
Your life purpose is to live for God’s glory. God’s ultimate desire is not to get us from point A to point B in the easiest or clearest way. Rather, His concern is that we would know Him deeply and trust Him more each day. Our deepest calling is a relationship with Jesus.
In his book “Follow Me,” David Platt writes: “The goal of the disciple of Jesus, then is not to answer the question ‘What is God’s will for my life?’ The goal, instead, is to walk in God’s will on a moment by moment, day by day basis.” God doesn’t always make His will clear because, ultimately, He values our being transformed more than our being informed.
Over time I have recognized that in every step of my life, He was working in ways I could not see. “It is the glory of God to conceal things” (Proverbs 25:2). Living in the will of God is more about knowing and trusting His promises than receiving specific direction.
In John Piper’s book “A Camaraderie of Confidence,” Hudson Taylor counsels us to “make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has the right to do as He pleases with His own, and He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you…God knows that our fundamental need is to learn to trust him over our very finite selves.”
Our Father is seeking worshippers and He knows that if He made our specific decisions more explicit, we would tend to focus more on what we do rather than on whom we love. In Revelation, there is an endless celebration of the Lord. Those in the kingdom know that every investment they made during their lifetime in the things of God was worth it. They are satisfied, not because they got all that they wanted in this life or did something flashy or amazing, but because God accomplished everything He promised.
I often drive the Natchez Trace and I love to see the sun shining through the mist over the fields early in the morning. Often, by the time I get to my destination, the mist is gone. The books of Ecclesiastes and James say our lives are like a mist.
Realizing this, I think we need to not be as obsessed with what we want to do but more concerned about who we should be. Unless we are what we are supposed to be, we cannot do what we have been called to do.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
Barbara Martin, LPC, LMFT, clinical coordinator of the Counseling Center at Reformed Theological Seminary, has her own private practice at RTS.