Last week, we reflected that passionate life comes from having a sense of calling in life. When you realize that you are connected to something bigger than your life, you find new passion for life. When your life is deeply connected with the higher purpose, then your life becomes meaningful and you can find passion in life.
How can you find this sense of calling? That is a very difficult question. It is not something that you can arbitrarily choose.
Just to make your life meaningful and purposeful.
But let’s think about calling. You don’t call yourself, do you? So, calling comes from outside of you. It is not something you decide. That’s why we call it calling.
That’s what Jesus said.
You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. (John 15:16)
Life is more than your decisions. We can see that in today’s passage. The disciples didn’t make a decision or choice as they liked.
Jesus called them and they simply responded. They didn’t initiate it. They didn’t ponder upon Jesus’ calling and made a decision. They responded immediately. They simply knew that it was the right thing to do.
Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:20)
Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Matthew 4:22)
Into the Unknown
In that sense, the gospel song, “ I have decided to follow Jesus” is not exactly right. I am not saying that it is not a good song. I know its sentiment very well. The song tried to express my desire to respond to the calling. But strictly speaking, it is not I who have decided to follow Jesus. I just responded to the calling.
I am not saying that careful examination is not important. I am not saying that impulsive and emotional response is a better option. We should always think about the cost of discipleship. But following Jesus is more than calculated decisions. We don’t know everything about what is involved in following Jesus. The disciples didn’t know either. They threw themselves into the unknown.
That is what we experience when we approach God. You don’t make a decision about God after searching everything about God in a google search. That’s not how you come to God. When you approach God, God takes the initiative and calls you. Sometime that feels like being thrown into the unknown.
God told Abraham to go to a place unknown to Abraham. He told him to leave his hometown but he didn’t even tell him where to go. He didn’t tell him why he had to leave his home either. He just told him to leave. So Abraham and his family left and they thought the place they were supposed to go was Haran. But it wasn’t Haran. So they had to leave again until they came to the promised land.
He didn’t know anything when he left Ur, his hometown but as he looked back, he realized how blessed he was. How God has guided him and provided everything he needed. Actually more than what he needed. Abraham’s life is a good example of a life of calling.
The disciples didn’t know what they were getting into. They simply threw themselves into the unknown without knowing what was waiting for them.
But as a matter of fact, that is what we do every day, don’t we? We don’t know what is waiting for us tomorrow. We are facing the unknown every day. I like the old gospel song, “I don’t know about tomorrow.”
I don’t know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to gray.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.
Many things about tomorrow,
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.
That was what the disciples felt at that moment. They didn’t know what held tomorrow. But they knew who held tomorrow. They knew that they were in good hands. That was why they could follow Jesus immediately.
They didn’t always do well in following Jesus. At the end, they all deserted Jesus. One denied him. The other betrayed him. And all others ran away from him.
Running away is a part of our spiritual journey too. As disciples ran away from Jesus, sometimes we also run away from Jesus.
There are times when we face so many troubles in life and we don’t feel any sense of help from God. We run away. There are times when we feel like doing everything as we want. We run away. There are time when we don’t feel like doing what God is asking us to do. We run away.
That was what Jonah did in the Bible. And yet, Jonah came back to God and finished the mission. The disciples came back and carried on what Jesus started.
That is what calling is. Our calling will be fulfilled not by our strength but by the strength of the calling. You are called and that calling will carry you even when you are not able to carry your life on your own. There is a good force of calling that carries your life. That was what Matthew believed. He believed that what Jesus did was all in a grand scheme of God.
He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled. (Matthew 4:13, 14)
When you live with a sense of calling, you realize that everything will be all right. Life does not 100% depend on you and your performance.
The Force of Calling
St. Paul lived as a person who lived with a sense of calling.
This is what he said.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
With this faith, you can enter into the unknown. You can take tomorrow with confidence. Nobody knows what holds tomorrow. But today, we can face tomorrow with confidence because God will work out everything for good.
Calling is not about what to do. Calling is the quality of your life. Calling is the way you live your life. Calling is how you respond to life.
After Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus approached him. He asked Peter, “Do you love me?”, three times. Not because he denied him three times. But because Jesus was about to tell him a very difficult thing about Peter’s life in the future. Peter answered, Yes I love you. After confirming that, then Jesus said this.
Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’(John 21:18-19)
Peter was weak but the force of calling was strong. That was how he was able to live out his calling. He followed not his own wishes but the calling.
When you have the sense of calling, you become bold. The unknown does not intimidate you. You can live your life with dare. Because you know that your life is in God’s good hands.