As I was considering moving, the primary motivation for me to leave my life, friends and job behind and live and work here was that it seemed like an invitation from God to be more myself. Here was an open door that was aligned with my mission and passions, so I decided to walk through it. In saying yes to Richmond Hill, I was saying yes to my calling to community, racial reconciliation, to seek the peace of the city and my own spiritual formation. It was an act of obedience.
As a child, the word obedience seemed harsh. I associated it with the potential punishment of disobedience. In my early spiritual life, there was an angry God in my imagination, telling me the right thing to do against my will and desires. I have become better friends with the word obedience and God lately. I have learned that obedience is saying yes to who God has made me and being faithful to the tasks that help me live out that call. That also means saying no to other things, no matter how good they may seem.
Vocare, the school for vocation here, has been a wonderful space to explore God’s will for me in relation to calling. The other day, guest speaker, Dick, said “know your gifts and know God’s will for you.” He encouraged us to identify our God given gifts, strengths and talents so that we could use them to glorify God and help others. That provided such clarity. We are always trying to figure out God’s will and purpose for us and it often feels like walking in the dark. The idea that our gifts and passions are the path to His will for our lives was like turning on a light.
Rev. Nathanial, another Vocare speaker, talked about having a personal mission statement. This statement outlines your values, passion and purpose in a concrete way. It’s been an important guiding tool in his decision making. He’s had job offers he was able to easily say no to because they were not in line with his mission. Alternatively, he was able to say yes to other opportunities that were. It is another way to stay on the path toward purpose and live into a deeper sense of self. I dug my mission statement out of a pile of papers and put it where I could see it. It reminded me that writing brings me life and coaching as a way of helping others find their purpose is a passion of mine. A few encounters this week confirmed my desire and ability. I am encouraged to take a small step toward both.
I want to spend my time and energy in ways that bring me closer to my calling, passions and purpose. In the “The Artist Rule,” Christine Valters Paintner says “what brings me joy and energy also brings me closer to my calling.” Touche’! She also says “obedience is listening deeply to the ways God calls you in everyday life and how you respond.” I have gotten excited about obedience as listening for God in my gifts, in things that bring me joy and energy and responding by doing those things as often as I can. How are you being invited to listen and respond? I hope you have the courage to answer your call by saying yes to what brings you life.