Calling

old-door-handleWriter Elisabeth Elliot has said God’s NO is His mercy.  In this posture of trust I have tasted the goodness of God. Hindsight faithfully reveals that the doors that had shut on me were pointing to portals that would swing wide with blessing.

I had always felt barred from overseas missionary work. The door to service abroad that I tried and tried wouldn’t budge. In 1996, I set foot in California for the first time on a working vacation as a guest contributor to a Wycliffe Bible Translators magazine called The Sower. Through the research and writing, I was in part scouting the missionary landscape and tapping possibilities for my place in it.

Fast-forward about ten years to the night a church leader came over for dinner. I had felt judged by this man who was passionate for overseas missions. I got the sense that he, knowing nothing of the many challenges I’d faced until then, thought me complacent in my little world. He never cared to probe, to discover anything of the work abroad I had pursued but that had never panned out for me. That night, he picked up the copy of The Sower that happened to lie on the coffee table, and flipping through, caught my byline. Taken aback, he seemed to see me in a new light.

A deep, sweet realization emerged in a talk with a friend last week. When she expressed pleasure over my writing, I pointed out that my hands don’t have the creative touch of hers and that I lack the verve and strength to serve people in the way she does.

I suddenly got chills.

I saw, after all these years, that anything I arguably could have accomplished as a missionary would have remained limited in scope. But the words I have put down, here and in global publications, reach more people than I would teaching English or laboring to build a hut somewhere. I heard God’s answer to the misperceptions of the man who had wanted more…activity out of me. I don’t always have to be talking faith. My writing is my art and the art, my worship.

My worship, my calling.

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Revelations 3:7

149 thoughts on “Calling

  1. AMEN!!!!!! More and more I have come to the realization of how much God knows me more than I know myself. GOD’s NO is HIS MERCY! When things don’t pan out the way I anticipate them to; how quick I can respond with, “BUT WHY GOD??? (referring to the NO),” but His ways and thoughts are far better than I could ever imagine. When I stay grounded in Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, I shall respond humbly, “Thank you, Jesus for saying NO. For closing the doors. Now show me clearly what you have planned for me instead.” Thanks for posting!!!! 🙂

  2. I love this. It is a good reminder that even the things that seem to be little in our eyes, when done for His glory, all have purpose and meaning. We must grow where we are planted and trust His plan and reasons for why we are there. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. Hearkening to a call is a most difficult thing to do. You are one brave woman and the world is so blessed because you have chosen to use your gift for writing to help heal the world. Callings demand much from us – yet, somehow, the good Lord always manages to give us a pat on the back when we need it most. God bless you and yours.

    • Hi Rosanna, I am so happy to see this from you. Interesting you say callings demand much…that’s how I’ve felt! Quite tired, much of the time, trying not to become remiss with the homeschooling…fighting for the time to write, write, write. I appreciate your gracious audience and encouragement. Diana

      • Ah, then you are one lucky gal! I had to give soooo many things – turned my back on many dreams – in order to hearken to my calling. But in the end, it was the best thing that I’ve done in my entire life, and has led to a very joyful life. 🙂

  4. How so interesting: most people would interchange “calling” for “dreams.” There are very many things my husband would like to see me do as well (can someone hand me 8 more hours each day?)…teach piano again…do health seminars….But I am set and settled in the writing – apart from the homeschooling – because I know it is where I should be right now.

  5. Hello, Thank you for visiting my blog. I do appreciate all of your kind comments.
    Best wishes for your success in your excellent writing which I do enjoy.
    May thoughts of peace and happiness be yours when you need them.
    Steve

  6. It’s amazing how hard it can be to see ourselves through the lens of accomplishment. You are right, our words can reach further than our hands. But always remember that there is much work to do with those same hands right around you. You may not be teaching English in a foreign land but you are teaching LOVE in your home & to those that surround you. Keep up the good work!!

  7. Ok wow…I don’t really know who you are and to be honest it’s a little scary because you somehow came across my very long and perhaps rambling post and left a comment. This post did speak to me in a very deep and Spirit confirming way that you could have no way of knowing except that the Spirit was using you to affirm something He was been saying to me. Thanks for being willing to be used and I am now deeply intrigued, how did you come across my blog?

    • I answered you. The Reader. It shows all the new posts as they come up. Go to the W sign in the upper left corner of your screen from your blog. I really did think it will speak to you. That’s simply why I sent it. I am so glad. Which parts resonated with you? Since you don’t know me…you can get better acquainted through the About the Wayfarer – only if you wish. I don’t in fact know how this other post will speak to you….but it is on faith and suffering. Well aware of my very diverse readership, I went ahead, almost carried in the writing, gathering 20 years of theology and trials. It rose to top 2 in record time. The Question of Human Suffering, under my Most Popular list. And many nonChristians put up likes. I really wish you continued spiritual prosperity. Diana

  8. Hallo Diana,
    I just wrote another reply to your comment to my post about religion. I always feel happy to hear people saying they found what God wants to do them with their lives. This beautiful post of yours tells me that you found exactly this. I enjoyed very much reading it. Thank you very much for sharing. 🙂
    Uta

      • This is what I replied earlier on to your last comment on my post: ‘Hallo, Diana, yes, I opened the link. I do not feel qualified to explain religion or to talk about faith in general. I can only say how it effects me and what my own experiences with religion are. I was in my forties when I talked to a Uniting Church Minister who happened to be our friend. We talked about religion. At the time I wasn’t affiliated with any religion. He asked a question about Faith. It turned out that I actually did have faith which surprised me.
        Sorry that I didn’t comment yet to your post. I’ll try to go back to it now.’
        Uta

      • I actually love to comment on it and I thank you for your interest. Not many people are interested in religion these days. And even in the past when church attendance was high I heard many people say because of religion a lot of wars have been fought. Most people I knew would try to avoid to talk about religion or politics for the feeling was it would cause only friction among friends.
        But I’m getting lost here a bit. What I want to say in my life there came a turning point when I was able to associate with people who had a strong belief in God and the goodness of God. Presumably you can find people like this in a lot of different religious institutions but also atheists often have a very high moral standing and some kind of a faith without becoming dogmatic.
        As I hinted at before I needed a bit of ‘pepping up’, when I was in my forties. It so happened I found a lot of very inspiring people in the Catholic Church.

  9. He / She hasn’t knocked on my door. All religions contain some truth but with this we should not become dogmatic. The world around us can be beautiful or terrible the main thing is that we are able to cope. Some people find solace in their religion. That is good. It is only a consolation, not the eternal truth. If we look for the truth we have a long way to go.

  10. Very well said. It is so true… the only time the Lord says “NO” to us is when He is working on our behalf to better fulfill His will for our lives. Thanks for your comment on my blog!

    • Thanks for the affirmation, Bob. I do add that this encouragement which has become an aphorism gets to me: “God has a plan for your life.” This God is too small and this claim, man-centered. Makes God sound like he’s busy living just for us, to line up the pieces of our life just so.

      He DOES have a plan for us. But there’s more. And it’s even more glorious than we see it play out eventually, this side of heaven. The plan is part of HIS great story, the GREAT redemptive plan that started in Eden, climaxed on Calvary, and will have no end in the Last Days. We are a mist. Our story a drop in His, but He sees to make it count.

  11. I certainly think overseas missions are important, to allow unreached people groups to hear the Word of God. However, I think ALL believers need to see themselves as missionaries wherever we are; indeed our entire lives are living epistles written on tablets of flesh. Thanks for this post.

    • Absolutely agree. I was going to mention this in the post — but didn’t feel I needed to in light of the particular point I was making. Xxxx Diana PS – I hope you find the latest post on first aid from my apothecary helpful, though I expect that it’s not all news to you. =)

      • ThAnk you for letting me know. =) Good to know my hard work didn’t go to waste. I was wiped out when I wrote it but I really wanted to get it out. I’m going to add that the very painful tightness on the sole of my foot just below the toes went away yesterday after I took 3/4 capful of lightly roasted sea salt. I remembered my holistic dr saying 7 years ago that it’s probably mineral deficiency. In this heat, she was right. Xxxx Diana

      • I worried my 6-yr-old was coming down with something when he complained of a headache today. But I figured it was the heat! And yes: the salt capsule (teeny one) with extra water did it! He was soon fine. I added to the post:
        Homeopathics work on animals just as they do on people.

  12. I would not have known, me hiding from His glory, if it were not for some key individuals, most do not know each other. Each have pointed this out to me: choosing not to risk being known; pursuing the writing life / passion / vision / CALLING (!) … And I suppose lastly, I did not maintain relationships, but moved around a great deal. I was in Antarctica (1994) when I realized I did not want to be alone. I met my wife seven months after I got off the Ice. Thanks for asking a great question, and I am sorry for the long answer. Peace, T

    • Hey – Diana, a little heads-up. ‘Just finished up a post (Wilder Man blog) about men being called out. If it looks like something you wrote about, its because your post on the Calling, and your question about hiding got me thinking and inspired me to write about being called, but maybe in a different way. Hey, thanks for inspiring me to go a bit deeper. T

  13. Since my earliest memory the idea that I am here to do work, to meet a specific purpose. People often refer to me as being spontaneous, free will and all that – because I listen. I have been listening and learning to hear, looking and learning to see, for as long as I can remember. I feel as though I don’t write but rather am impelled to write. I don’t seek people to help, they find me and I have the answer, but I don’t know that in advance so the message is delivered humbly and is a result of my way of being. I cannot follow people because that which I follow is far greater and precedes us all – work with that and the pain is bittersweet, work against it and despair and futility kick in over and over until surrender arrives and I do what I knew I should have done in the first place. I am being cooked by life, a very specific process and not for everyone, my gratitude is based in the realisation that I couldn’t have self-created and I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been taken out of my hands from the beginning.

      • I don’t know about scars and nails, I will never get the truth of that story, too many people telling it in their own way. I have come this far without needing to put on trappings, whatever is to be found next will appear at the right time. At the moment, there is significant resistance to religion rising up in me, so we must move on to the point of it and not bother with the description. Sorry. I cannot follow.

      • In the real sense. I cannot displace what I have learned by taking on other’s beliefs. I have significant resistance to religion and what you have shown me here is that there are archetypal stories of humans that I can relate to and learn from. This is your gift that I am ever so grateful for.

        As for where it will lead…I often say to myself “don’t second-guess the powers that be”. If resistance arises I must take another path, at least until it subsides.

  14. Absolutely love this post. Right on. I’m so for being a “Mary” and listening to Jesus and not getting caught up in the need for approval by being a “Martha”. Thank you for writing this.

  15. God does funny things. I was very rebellious with God. I didn’t like his ways (or what I imagined his ways were). After a long time feeling purposeless I started writing my first novel set in the 19th century. I thought throwing in a few Bible quotes would make the world seem more authentic, but God used those quotes to get me into the Bible and to come to Him for the first real time in my life. The novel ended up being about a vague redemption. In the second novel not yet published one of the main characters has a Christian conversion and then spends the next few novels struggling what to do with his Christianity 🙂 I like to think God is using my struggles and faith to one day help others through the novels. I guess we’ll see. But when I’m writing I just know it’s what God wants for me right now.
    This was a beautiful piece. It’s always so easy to slip back into comparing and feeling less than.

    • =) Warms my heart not only that you rooted around in here, Ian, but that we can connect over this post. I replied to Writing to Freedom under the year-end post:

      “I observed right away in March that people with worldviews vastly different from my own were sitting down to tea with me. I was onto something in my personal mission statement. I would not preach to the choir, but embrace everyone while stating clearly who I am.”

  16. Oh gosh love this and a big Amen! Thank you for sharing! I got the chills too reading this 😉 also especially agree with this: ‘And I don’t always have to be talking faith.’ Being the best of what God wants us to be, to me, is the highest form of worship and our best testimony.

  17. Diana, thank you for the encouraging reminder that God closes doors in order to lead us to the open ones that are glorifying to him and best for us. It gave me peace when I read this. Rev.3:7 is a perfect verse to end your post with. I’ve remembered it during times of waiting.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  18. Thank you, Diana, for this beautiful post and the reminder of God’s Sovereignty in everything! I love your words, “My writing is my art and the art, my worship.”

    • Wonderful to hear how this spoke to you. Martin Luther (the Reformer, not King the activist) clarified that all of our living is sacred – not just work in the Church. “Offer your bodies as spiritual sacrifices…” Romans. We are the priesthood of all believers, not an elite few in a parish. Thanks so much for keeping up.

      Love,
      Diana

  19. This is beautiful. I had a period of emotional turmoil when I hadn’t realized my calling and was envious of the paths of others. I have found so much peace in recognizing God’s plan for this season of my life. So many people need this message.

    • You made me Smile, Rajiv and Phyl. Well, my Bible says He makes the sun to shine on all, brings rain to nourish all His world. Can you look back with gladness for the path you had “missed”? You guys actually bring to mind my recent post on “my deepest longing”: hope. Your question reveals your longing for redemption, your hope that good can and will come out of disappointments and opportunities you feel you’ve missed. That’s what I have for you, for now.

      Diana

      • Hey? What? I think, Di, here we are moving into a “each to his own” territory! I believe in nature. I don’t believe in organised religion. I think too much crime has been committed in the name of “God”, so I don’t seek redemption!

      • I wasn’t speaking of redemption in its loaded spiritual terms, Rajiv. Was simply referring to a hope against waste, a hope for better things. =) And yes, so much crime in the name of God. But then again, so much crime outside the name, too.

  20. This might seem like I am digressing from the topic but a whirlwind of thoughts came to mind as I read this post. So I had to share them with you.

    Your words were so clear, so relatable. It made me think about religions. It’s sometimes so obvious. In plain sight. But we still don’t get it. We choose to fight barbarously over religions, over who is right and who isn’t. In reality, we live in a world where all skies are blue and all grass is green, water is transparent and blood is red. And hearts have all been infused by HIS love and an endless supply of goodness. Its only the astray that close their hearts and minds because they can’t see the obvious. Its all the same. The rest, the additions, the extraneous information is all irrelevant. Who wears what. Who speaks what. How does one pray and how does the other ask for forgiveness. Its all secondary. What matters is that there is only One God. One Allah. And that HE made us for a higher cause. Like you described in the best way possible. `Our Calling`, a mission that God wants us to fulfill, a vision that only He helps us see.

    Reading this post only reinforced my belief. Essentially the core philosophy of all religions is the same. In Islam, we also have blind trust and faith in everything that HE gives us; be it a blessing or hardship. Because HE always knows best. This thought alone makes lives SO much easier:). Because we never question HIS intentions. There is a famous saying by our Prophet Muhammad that ; ‘Allah loves us more than the love of seventy mothers combined.’ Now who can question a love like that:)?

    May God bless your calling; your worship and your words. Always. Ameen.

    • Whirlwinds of thought always welcome. =) This will surprise you but I actually would parse your reflections, agree with some of it, disagree wtih the rest. Yes we do wrangle over and judge according to many things that are a waste of energy. But while the major faiths of the world bear some common virtues, hopes, and injunctions, they make distinct claims. They must. It’s almost like the whole thing on race. Blueberries are not red, cannot claim to be. Full-blooded Koreans are not full-blooded black.

      I am so glad the post warmed you and deepened trust in your God, my friend, as it was precisely about that. Knowing that disappointments and confusion will not have the last word and that Wisdom lights my way.

      I’ve sensed a renaissance of sorts in you lately, Nida. You seem lit up with inspiration. Keep blazing your trail!

      Love,
      me

  21. I have felt the same way and then God showed me the ability to write and that turned into my mission in life. I don’t have to travel across the word to do His work. God bless you my friend! Have a God filled weekend!

  22. So lovely. I’ve found this too – the doors that are blocked aren’t always right for us. And our work is our prayer.

  23. Great piece Diana. We all have our calling from God. Even though I have been all over the world and have shared my faith with many, I feel as if I am being far more relevant with my writing and online work now. When I was pregnant with my first, I fell into depression, thinking that my life was over. Over time God has made it very clear to me that that’s not the case. I’m done with ‘activity’. So is God. We are called to co-create with the almighty creator and partner with him in His work. Not run around trying to find ways to be relevant and active. And definitely not to try to gain the approval of man. I think I may have learned to be a Mary and not a Marth.
    You are an excellent writer and have the awesome opportunity to co-create with He that gave you that gift. Yeah!
    🙂

    • I appreciate the time you took to share your story as a fellow mom and struggling artist, Staci. We disappoint so easily when the cattle on a thousand hills are His and He can call upon legions of angels to do His bidding. When He is out for our good. Thank you for the ongoing encouragement. Means a lot, S.

      Love,
      me

  24. Traditional ways of serving are not the only way, what a limited perspective to think that way.
    “My writing is my art and the art, my worship.”
    Excellence at what we do glorifies God & opens many doors. Thanks for sharing your light-bulb moment.

    • An internet clip:

      Having given Moses all the instructions regarding what is to be built, the LORD then told Moses whom He has chosen to be the chief builder: Bezalel. The LORD’s remarks regarding this choosing are very interesting: “I have chosen Bezalel, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts. . ..”

      Thanks for your time, Timi. =)

  25. Very well stated post HW. It reminds me of a Country and Western song by Garth Brooks “Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKqZjgIfxe0 .

    It is always hard (for me) to determine if my resolve is being tested (I’m going in the right direction but need to put more effort in) or if I’m barking up the wrong tree. To me, it’s often only clear in hind sight. Regardless, it certainly seems that things work best when I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Just figuring that out is the hard part – well, one of the hard parts. Honestly, it seems that God’s will is a living, growing desire that sometimes wants me to be doing one thing and then switch to something else. Most people of the Faith seek what we are discussing – the right place/job/relationship for them to best express their faith. Having found that, they then set up shop doing whatever it takes to best fulfill their calling. This is good but we (or at least I) get very comfortable and quit seeking – thinking we’ve found our calling and now just have to settle in and work at it. In my experience, this is a sort of error – in that one must constantly check to make sure this is still the right path, as God sometimes seems to change our paths over time. It’s happened a few times over my life – where I was too comfortable in doing what I felt was right, to notice that circumstances had changed and I was supposed to be elsewhere. Ha! Often this will result in a swift swat up the side of my reality, causing havoc and making me rethink my circumstances.

    Anyway, Great Post HW. thank you for your thoughts.

    • Nice song, Paul. I believe we tend to think we’re being tested more often than we really are. That’s a post right there, and that’s just me. You remind me of an interesting clip I caught on NPR a few hours ago, an interview with a scientist/author who studies bees. They are indispensable to the nutritious life of farm crop, and therefore to our own health, for the efficient ways they pollinate crops. Her concluding pleaful hope was that we live like bees, do “our thing” to help vitalize the greater good. I smelled a post in there, but am back-logged enough on post ideas I don’t think I’ll go for it. Was food for thought, though. Yes, “our thing” changes, have their season. Be sure to keep the joy through the changes.

  26. This state of calling, this higher purpose rising out among the gentle grass of humility – this is always a wonderful topic and your post is phenomenal in laying out how He has nudged you to where you are today. I have fretted over this for most of my life, Diana, this “what’s the point?” type of conversation I have in my head that doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut answer. I guess it’s about clearing the way first. For me, that means opening myself up to His will. I like what Paul said (I *always* like what Paul says) about God’s will being a fluid thing. What He wants me to do now isn’t what He may need me to do tomorrow. For a complicated guy like me, that simply won’t do! But then I remember I have to simplify, sweep away the debris of hubris and ego, and just listen for His gentle words to guide me.

    Do I know His will for me right now? I don’t know. So instead of being frozen by fear, I just mosey along and do the next indicated right thing. And see what happens.

    Your post reminded me of a quote by Bill Wilson (co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) who said: “To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”. This simple phrase reminds me that I don’t have to be building cathedrals or winning Stanley Cups to be making a difference, or to be oustanding in some field. It means that what I consider something ever so simple and humble might help someone else in profound ways. And methinks that your blog does that, my friend.

    Thank you.

    Paul

    • I agree Paul, and thanks for the tip of the hat. For sure, HW turns the everyday into the profound. “To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.” – really like this. I’ve had it happen to me a number of times and watched it happen to others. It is so true. Thanks for the discussion Paul.

    • Both of you Pauls insist on leaving me more than my two cents’ worth.

      You really did pinpoint it, the answer to the million-dollar question of how to decode God’s will for our life. Just do the next thing. He does not make it more complicated than it is (as He would as a female lol). Not to mention that we have more than clear guidance spelled out in Scripture: obey, surrender, trust.

      I love the quote! And your application. The first person who comes to mind for me is my son, of course. And I am always humbled, times like these, for falling short as a person in the mothering.

      And then you had to surprise me with your closing sentiment.

      You’re too much, Paul. You leave me feeling full as I turn in for the night.
      (I can’t wait to share your story with this crowd. There, I spilled the beans!)

      D.

  27. I would say that this post really drew a lot of attention (I actually got tired of reading before I could finish them all). It is encouraging to me to see that many people sense that they are not complete without seeking and finding God – sometimes it seems like no one cares. The “all about me” culture is so dead end and yet we all find ways to chase after it. I agree that we need to be part of God’s story of redemption and restoration or there is really no reason for us to be here at all. Thanks for being a voice that coaxes others into the arena of thought.

    • Really insightful and well put, Shirley: “The “all about me” culture is so dead end and yet we all find ways to chase after it.” I had a conviction when I started writing on A Holistic Journey that I wasn’t to speak to just Christians. I was not to preach to the choir but be my own voice in the marketplace of ideas. I appreciate every bit of your thoughtful input. You also touch on something I may mention here someday, how Christians stuff God into their own story and forget we are part of HIS great one. “God has a special plan for your life.” So postmodern and individualistically American. He does, but not in the Santa-like way where He’s spinning out a golden path with our name on it. Our life could not be more meaningful because it is taken up by His glorious plan of redemption. Thank you so much for talking with me today.

      Diana

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