“Whenever you are in a place and you don’t know why you are there, go back to your original call.”
This was the first sentence of a sermon preached by the Patriarch of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC), The Most Reverend Craig Bates, on Wednesday night, June 17, 2009. We were attending the opening service of the Provincial Convocation of the Southeast Diocese of the CEC. (See Tuesday’s blog for an explanation on the CEC.)
“Whenever you are in a place and you don’t know why you are there, go back to your original call.” As soon as I heard this sentence, I was hooked. It was as if the Patriarch was speaking to me only. All of my life I have struggled with what I was supposed to do for a career; what was God calling me to do? I have gone from one calling to a different job, to another calling, to another job all of my life – seeking my place. You may think I’m exaggerating, but believe me, I’m not. As a teenager, I worked at Newnan Hospital as what was known then as a “Blue Skirt.” We were trained to make beds, give bed baths, assist with meals, and other duties that freed the nurses to do what they were there to do. I loved that job and wanted to be a nurse. I took two quarters of nursing school and decided that maybe that wasn’t for me after all. I changed majors and studied music. I knew that God have given me a talent in piano playing and I decided this must be what He wanted me to do. (Note I said “I decided” not – this is what God said I was to do.) Before I received my degree, I dropped out of college and got married, promising my parents I would get that degree in music. That particular degree still eludes me. Once I got married, I began working in the administration/office management field.
I do know that God has given me the gift of administration. I can organize anything – from a closet to a convention for 16,000. I can organize an office or a person. I have lists of things to do and I’ve been known to make a list of all the lists I have. I have worked in the administration field for 35 years. So, I know in that respect, I have been on the right track.
If I’ve gotten the “professional” aspect correct, that leaves the ministry aspect. What has God called me to do in ministry? I have, over the years, waffled on that call. Now, before I list the litany of what areas within the church I’ve worked, please listen: there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with working in more than one area of the church. Most churches need all the volunteers available to fill the open positions in their ministries. My point is I did all of these things trying to determine what God was calling me to do in ministry. Here’s the list: nursery worker, pianist/keyboardist for worship team(s); Choir Director; Sunday School teacher; taught numerous classes in the last ten years; counselor; Director of Prayer Ministry; the list goes on.
I did learn some things about myself during this time: I learned that I love to teach adults and I love to counsel. During this time, I received my BA in Christian Counseling. I believed that these two things were a part of my calling, but I also felt there was more to it than that. For over 17 years, I have had a heart for women, especially women who have been deeply wounded emotionally. My desire has been and still is to help women forgive those who wounded them, to become the women of God that He has called them to be and to see themselves as God sees them, not as the world sees them.
If these three areas – teaching, counseling and working with women – were not enough, God threw writing into the mix, writing for women. Is anyone beginning to see the theme here?
Have you ever found yourself in a place where you are not even sure how you got there, much less why you are there? And you’re so overwhelmed with everything you think you are supposed to do, that you procrastinate on doing anything? That was me on Wednesday night, June 17, 2009. So when the Patriarch began his message with the sentence “Whenever you are in a place and you don’t know why you are there, go back to your original call,” my attention was focused on hearing what he had to say. And his message was quite simple, yet profound. What was my original call? What is the Father doing? What is God doing right now in our midst?
I began to think of my original call. Yes, I did have an original call and yes, I did know what the call was. When I was 11, maybe 12, I truly believed that God was calling me to the mission field. I believed it so strongly that one Sunday I went forward during the altar call and told my Pastor who promptly announced to the congregation that I was called to the mission field. Imagine the look of total and utter shock on my parents’ faces as they had no idea any of this was going on with me.
That call never came to fruition. Over the years, I decided that maybe I had not heard correctly, and yet, that call was always in the back of my mind. Sometimes I felt guilty, blaming myself for not pursuing that call. Many times I questioned the call – after all, I was a young kid – I probably didn’t hear correctly or maybe I was moved by the emotional moment. Whatever the reason(s), I never became a missionary. But on Wednesday night, June 17, I went back to that original call. And here is what I heard the Lord say to me:
“I called you to the mission field when you were a child. I called you to the
mission field in your own backyard. You are a missionary to every woman
WOW. There it was, after all these years of wondering. I am to minister to women through teaching, counseling and writing (this does not exclude men to be counseled with their wives or in attending classes). I even re-wrote my mission statement: “To show the love of God and His healing power to women through teaching, counseling and writing.”
Today, I ask you. What was your original call? Go back to it and make sure you are fulfilling it. If not, ask God to show you what you need to do in order to fulfill your call. He will answer you.