One of the questions that comes up again and again in my conversations with Christian people is: ‘What is God’s will for my life?’. We often want to think about what it is we should be doing with our lives, and whether God has an opinion on that. This is something that we particularly wrestle with as young adults trying to decide on a career (I spent most of my early twenties working through this issue) but the question also reappears at many stages in our lives.
On Sunday we thought about one way that Christians’ might answer this question, with the idea of ‘vocation’, our calling from God. This was part of our reflection on what it means to be a ‘member’ of the church. Vocation is about at least three different beliefs. Firstly, that God has a universal call for every human being, which all of us can answer. This is the calling to dedicate our lives to knowing Christ and experiencing his love in our lives. Anyone, in any time and place, can live with this purpose and find meaning for themselves. Secondly, vocation means that every area of life can contain a calling from God – our work, our study, our volunteering, our recreational pursuits, our relationships, our role in the community, the needs that we see around us, and the mission of the Church. We are ‘called’ to live out our faith in Jesus through the circumstances and places that we find ourselves in; we are not waiting for some time in the future when we will be ‘in God’s will’. Finally, vocation includes the belief that God gives each of us particular gifts, abilities and opportunities that provide guidance as to where our special calling and contribution to the world might be. This is the most difficult thing to discern, and may be the journey of a lifetime to understand. It may also involve the sacrifice of other good callings or opportunities. This is why Jesus told his disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16: 24-25).
Finding our purpose in life might be more challenging than we think!