Here I go again with some potential new career developments. What to do?
“Discernment is always mysterious, tricky, careful work.” offers author Lauren Winner. “We always see through glass darkly.” Think of vocation as “an invitation from a Friend. I accept it today in the contours of my present situation until the moment when I will perhaps see more clearly.”
She italicized that word perhaps because clarity is not assured. When clarity remains elusive, we keep our eyes fixed on God and do the best we can, living in the tension.
Quoting theologian Paul Evdokimov, Winner added, “One’s entire vocation is an option, an answer to a call that has been heard….It is never a voice that clarifies everything. The dimness inherent in faith never leaves us.” (underline added)
Undergirding Winner and Evdokimov’s views is St. Paul’s teaching on discernment in 1 Corinthians 13:12. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (KJV)
Absolute clarity is elusive. Until then, we make our best calls while trusting in faith that God’s got our backs. Still our experiences beg the question, does God intend we flounder about and just do the best we can or does he really have something specific in mind for each of us?
Books have been written to address that question and a good one is “The Call” by Os Guinness. Advocating for vocations based on calling instead of just giftedness, Guinness urges we seek to do what we are vs. the more popular “We are what we do.”
But what about when I discover I am not doing what I am but I found a way to make what I am doing work for my life? Can God still work with me?
Yes, absolutely! If, say, my God-deemed way is a straight path and the way I’ve chosen apart from God is a crooked path, guess what? God specializes in crooked path straightening! Crooked paths, if not best, are normal.
Six weeks ago, I asked my pastor Doug for advisement about a change unfolding in my current job.* I’ve counseled regularly with him during this long and winding search. This time, I had a couple of options, door number 1 and door number 2.
Doug responded, “Glenn, as deliberate as you’ve been to place this quest in God’s hands, let me assure that no matter what you decide to do, God’s got you covered.”
Doug’s comments sort of encapsulated my theme passage for 2015 in Proverbs 3:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6, NIV)
Notice what’s implied. Crooked paths WILL be encountered. No matter how God-centered our life-process is, stuff happens. When it does, everyone who believes in the Lord has a locked-in warranty against all crookedness that occurs, even if it’s intentional. Among his many specialties, the Lord is an expert “Crooked Path Straightener.”
Note the caveat in the next two verses of Proverbs 3:
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3: 7-8, NIV)
NOT leaning on my own understanding is to also NOT be wise in our my eyes.
When the next bomb goes off in the middle of your day, career, family, life, health, try this: 1) Take a deep breath; 2) Commit the situation to the Lord in prayer; 3) Calmly deal with it the best you can.
Even if we mess up or ignore the Lord in our next choice, our Lord is an expert “Crooked Path Straightener” who only waits for our call to be let in to get to work – for our good and His glory.
You and I really matter to him.
- Lauren Winner’s quotes are from her book “Real Sex – the naked truth about chastity.”
- That meeting with my pastor? See: http://www.farmingtonglenn.net/unbelief-setback/
- Image source: http://maureenschaffer.blogspot.com/2011/09/knowing-god-he-goes-before-us.html