Here are some brief words about my understanding of calling that I wrote for a service in celebration of my wife and I as we left our wonderful faith community in Richmond, Virginia.
Calling is ongoing. I am called is a statement that refers to the present. I was called and I will be called, but right now, I am called. God calls me to a life of ministry, a life of serving and helping others. What this life will look like, I do not know. But I know what this life, this calling, has looked like in the past.
It meant academic study of ministry, especially faith formation and children. It meant giving up everything I knew in order to move to another country. It meant joys and sorrows as I worked at a church as a children’s pastor. It meant struggling with church and then receiving the healing that all of you at RMF have offered to me, to us. And although this calling has meant pain and enduring hardship, I know that I cannot fight it. I must simply embrace my calling, past, present, and future, in order to faithfully obey God and follow Jesus.
At present, my calling is one of restructuring my life, of redefining the ways in which I fulfill my calling and of picking up the pieces of the past and moving toward the future. In short, my present calling is one of helping myself so that I can help others, and of embracing the unknown as I forge ahead.
My future calling, as clearly as I can see it today, is one of ministry with those who need a voice—the oppressed first nations people of Canada, the children who we love yet put in second place, African Americans whose lives may never change under the myth of a post-racial United States, and the average person in the pew who has never felt the joy and fear of embracing the narrow road that leads to life, but would rather choose the wide road of consumer Christianity.
For me, calling means listening God as you allow yourself to be conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of ministering to others. Although I do not know what that might look like in the future, I am thankful for how God has spoken to me through the voices of you all and how Christ has become visible to me through your lives. I once thought of my calling as either academic or ministerial. Now, I know that I cannot divorce one from the other. Ministry suffers when it lacks theological reflection and study, and without ministry, my academic work will be all for nothing. For this, and for all that you have done for us, I am thankful to you and to God.