Pastor Chris kicked off a two-part series entitled, “Direction from Above.” This series focuses on calling and as Pr. Chris
shared, this week’s message on your individual calling is meant to set the table for next week’s message on Northgate’s
corporate calling. Pr. Chris started his message by showing a video clip from the Office where Dwight and Michael are
driving and are being directed by the GPS. The GPS tells Michael to turn right. Michael takes the GPS literally and
drives into a river.
Before talking about God’s calling for us individually, Pr. Chris talked about what it means to be called and defined
calling as 1) being named and 2) being given an invitation. This is analogous to when someone calls you on the phone.
They name you and invite you to talk, maybe giving you another invitation to do something. We also see this
understanding of calling in social media and in advertisements. Advertisements seek to “name” you as someone who
lacks something that their product can supply. And because we are exposed to approximately 3,000–5,000 ads a day, we
are quite desensitized to calling. That is where there is value in retreats and unplugging from the digital world. It
removes the clamor of voices that seek to name us and invite us so that we can hear from God, the voice we value
Biblically, calling consists of three parts: 1) an invitation for an individual to follow God, 2) a moment when God waits
for a response, and 3) instructions from God on what to do next (see Isaiah 6:8–9). Historically, in the Church, “calling”
has mostly been reserved for those in full-time ministry, such as pastors, missionaries, etc. However, calling is not just
for pastors. All people, by virtue of being human, inherit a calling at birth. We are called to know God, to bear his
image, to make disciples, etc. Additionally, we are all called to a vocation. Frederick Buechner says, “the place God
calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Sometimes you can make
money living into your calling and sometimes you do not. Whatever the case, we are all called by God. Discerning that
calling is critical.
Scripture is pretty clear, though, that God often does not make your calling crystal clear and he rarely maps everything
out. Abraham, for example, was called to leave Ur and go to an unspecified land (Gen. 12:1). God gave Abraham just
one step with no clear vision on where it was leading. Noah was called to build the ark and was given instruction on
how to do that. He was given a vision of the future and was instructed along the way. Joseph was called to a vision of
the future (Gen. 37:5–11) but was not given the details on what the steps were to lead into that vision. He was given
just the end point. Northgate’s story is similar to Joseph’s. Pr. Jon received a vision for Northgate, but it took 10 before
the Church in WNY would be ready to partner in planting in Northgate.
You may not have absolute certainty in your calling and clarity about every step along the way, but faith is not the
absence of uncertainty. Faith is trusting in God amidst the uncertainty.