In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes a parade in heaven, with a crowd of spirits and people and musicians. It was in honour of a beautiful lady clothed in light.
“Is it? … is it?” I whispered to my guide.
”Not at all,” said he, “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of. Her name on Earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”
”She seems to be … well, a person of particular importance?”
”Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”
The characters continue describing all the people (and animals) that in her life she’d loved who were now part of this procession.
I’ve been grappling of late with the idea of “Calling.” Or more specifically my lack of one. I’ve been coming across a number of messages exhorting Christians to recognise and act upon their “unique calling and gifting.” The writers and speakers of those messages are, I think, unaware of how stifling such a message can be to some people. For those who do feel a Calling into ministry that’s great, and we celebrate with you and support you in that. (And Gary Neal Hansen has written an excellent series of posts about how to identify that Ministry Calling.)
It was drummed into me earlier in my Christian growth the concept “Not everyone is called.” Not everyone is called to lead or preach or go overseas with Missions. I believed the lie that I didn't have a "Calling", "Ministry" or "Gifting". So when I heard messages about stepping out into your unique gifting and calling from God, my heart would respond "what gifting? What calling?" And I’d become anxious trying to figure it out. When I wanted to try something new, the thoughts would attack me with “You’re not called for that.”
I was just me being me, doing what I do, the mundane, ordinary, everyday, getting-on-with-it things.
I’m in the process of coming to the conclusion that the idea of a unique “calling” and “gifting” for each believer is being over-emphasised. It’s becoming a distraction trying to work out what those callings and giftings are.
Yes, we are each created uniquely. Yes, it is intended for us to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
For those of us with “ordinariness”, let’s think less about trying to figure out what our “calling” or “gifting” is and just get on with getting on with it.
I’m going to go back to concentrating on just being me, and doing what I do. Focus my attention back to loving God and loving my neighbours. I’m finding that’s bringing much more freedom. When I want to try something new, I don’t have to figure out if it’s in my “calling” or not, I can just give it a go anyway and see how it turns out.
We may never see in this world the outcome of what we do. We may never know what difference we have made to those around us. We can only see the outside, but God sees the inside of the heart, and the eternal consequences that we cannot see.
Just like Sarah Smith from Golders Green, let’s make our focus loving God and loving others.