I recently had a conversation with a friend who moved to California for her husband’s career. A few months ago, her husband unexpectedly resigned his job and is currently receiving unemployment as he looks for a new job. As my friend described the upheaval in her life, I could hear rolling tears and sniffles over our sketchy cell connection. "It's hard for me to really believe God called us here—all the way across the country—to not be working in the field that my husband has passion for." I just listened as she poured out her pain over the stress this situation was causing on their marriage, financial security, family relationships, and overall mental health.
She asked the kinds of questions any of us would ask: Had they made a mistake? Did they not clearly hear God’s call to take this job? If so, why was it turning out so badly? Had their egos gotten in the way of God’s call? Why was it so hard?
Our conversation got me thinking about the many times I've questioned God's call for me and my life. Similar questions have arisen for me at times throughout my adult years. It wasn't long after we moved to Germany that I wondered why God had sent us to a foreign land that was so harsh and unforgiving and so far from family and friends. And truth be told, I wondered that more than once in the 13 years we lived there.
Even in my most recent call here to Prince of Peace and Northern Virginia, I've had moments where I've questioned why God sent us here. I don't think I'm unusual in that respect. As humans, we always long for what we don't have or what we had before, especially if it includes a season of challenge, uncertainty, and loss.
Seasons of uncertainty can occur in any area of our life. For example, it’s tempting to question your commitment to your marriage when the relationship is not as easy and fun as when you were newlyweds. The call of motherhood or fatherhood may feel overwhelming when you face day after day of taxiing kiddos around or changing dirty diapers. When you’re single and all your friends are moving in together or having pre-marital sex, you may question God’s call to celibacy and purity. And living like Christ and modeling love can be extremely tough when that neighbor or family member really gets under your skin.
So what is it that enables us to remain strong and steadfast in the moments and seasons of life when we question our call and commitment? What keeps us rooted when life turns a new direction and things don’t turn out as we had expected or when tough times come our way?
When the questions of our calling surfaces (and they will come), the promises of God keep us strong and steadfast in the midst of the swirling questions. When I was yearning for a sense of home and questioning why God placed my family in Germany, I clung to Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Through these words God reassured me He was my safe place, my home, the only One who could comfort and give me the peace my soul longed for.
And it’s been in the safe space of God’s wide open arms where I’ve learned this: God desires to grow me through the questioning process, and this growth is also part of the call that He invites me to say yes to. Sometimes it’s not about a job, a role, a place on the map. It’s about Jesus Christ growing me more and more into His likeness. And if we are honest with ourselves, this kind of growth usually happens when we are on our knees, in full surrender, clinging only to the Lord and His promises.
When we answer the call to question and surrender, we can say with St. Paul in full understanding and confidence, “that is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
What a mystery…a mystery we are called to embrace in times of questioning our call.
Stacey likes refers to herself as a “beautiful mess” who is learning to embrace the messiness of her life and live gracefully and authentically within it. She likes to create and enjoys the places it takes her. Stacey is married to Jeff and together they have two beautiful, very independent, strong-willed girls who are also learning to love and give love authentically. Jeff and Stacey are a family fighting for slow in northern Virginia after living in Germany for thirteen years. Stacey enjoys having friends over to her house, spending time with her family at home and on the road, reading, painting, basking in the sun, and encouraging others to move out in courage to live and share God’s love.