How are you living out your assignment from God?
I was reviewing a conference manual when I noticed that I had stuffed some pages into it. Three of those pages were the article on calling, "Formed, Not Found" by Tod Bolsinger.
Bolsinger writes, "For the Christian, calling is formed--and thereby found--in the midst of the work of our hands, just as Jesus taught us that whatever we treasured enough to hold on to will eventually take hold of our hearts."
Let me isolate the part about the "work of our hands." About this John Calvin writes,
The Lord bids each of us in all of life's actions to look to his calling. He has appointed duties for every [person] in his particular way of life . . . he has named these various kinds of livings 'callings.' Therefore, each individual has his own kind of living assigned to him by the Lord as a sort of sentry post so you he may not heedlessly wander about throughout life.
Your life, and in particular your work, is your sentry post from God. It is your vocation and a "holy work" as Martin Luther notes in a sermon he gave in 1534:
See to if first of all that you believe in Christ and are baptized. Afterward, see to your vocation. I am called to be a preacher. Now when I preach I perform a holy work that is pleasing to God. If you are a father or mother, believe in Jesus Christ and so you will be a holy father and a holy mother. Pay attention to the early years of your children, let them pray, and discipline and spank them. Oversee the running of the household and the preparation of meals. These things are none other than holy works to which you have been called. That means they are your holy life and are a part of God's Word and your vocation.
This work of ours is holy because it, or perhaps more precisely, we are the means God uses to give his gifts and accomplish many of his tasks:
All our work in the field, in the city, in the home, in struggle, in government--to what does it all amount before God except child's play, by means of which God is pleased to give his gifts in the field, at home, and everywhere? These are the masks of our Lord God, behind which he wants to be hidden and to do all things.
This is exciting stuff. As Bolsinger notes, living out our calling is a source of great joy, but it's not the point of vocation. "Calling is formed through a commitment to fulfill the command to love the neighbor, not in the search for personal fulfillment."
I encourage you to read Tod's article. In the meantime remember your work is your sentry post from God:
All quotes from Calvin and Luther came from "Formed, Not Found" by Tod Bolsinger. Here are the references he provided:
- "The Lord bids each of us" from Calvin's Institutes 3.10.6.
- "See to it first" from Luther's Sermon from 1534, cited in Bennethum, Listen! God is Calling!, Kindle locations 400-404.
- "All our work in the field" from Exposition of Psalm 147, quoted by Wingren, Luther on Vocation, 138.
- "Formed, Not Found" by Tod Bolsinger. Fuller Magazine 2014.