Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fate, Destiny and Calling: A long term perspective

As opposed to a short term perspective, which could be exemplified by statements of "Oh, I found a quarter, it's fate that I should have this and buy a gumball from the candy machine!" In my more cynical moments, I would characterize this invocation of fate as weakness or feeblemindedness. In my more open minded moments, I would characterize this as living out the ideals of fate to its full potential, and adhering to it with the same tenacity a Bible thumping southern grandma would to her faith in an all-powerful, all-knowing sovereign God.

But that is neither here nor there.

This is less a blog entry than it is a thought dump. I hope to come back again to this post once these thoughts have been distilled and I can rewrite this with more direction and purpose.


Ah, purpose. There it is. Aren't they all synonyms when used in a long term perspective? Fate, destiny, calling, purpose… it's all the same. It doesn't matter if you're young or old, male or female, married or unmarried, Christian or not. The desire for more, a meaning and purpose, is there.

I wonder if it is inherent. Is this built in? Are we designed this way? My friend says no. In a recent conversation, he suggested that the idea of purpose is a recent development. That as recently as three generations ago, the main purpose in life for a man was to make a living and to provide for his family. It wasn't until recently that we wanted to do more than that.

But I counter with this: We are now living in a culture wealthy enough to have a reasonable expectation of providing for our family and more. Our wealth may now obligate us to use our abundance for the good of others. Since we have now gained for ourselves the stability and safety that we seek, shouldn't we now help others to gain and achieve the same?


Friend: Some people, when they think they have discovered their calling, they stop trying. They simply wait for it all to happen, as if it were expected. Entitled.

Me: Hmm. That's interesting. I never thought of it that way. The way I have always seen it was that as soon as I figure out what my calling is, I'd put everything I have into it. I would do little to nothing else. I would do everything I can to fulfill that calling to the best of my ability.

It's taken me a week of sitting on that exchange, but I've come to the realization that neither response is particularly healthy or balanced.


Me: Don't waste your life. That's a compelling title for a book.

Friend: Yes. John Piper writes some pretty good, straight to the point books.

Me: Have you read it?

Friend: No, I think I stopped somewhere towards the middle

Me: Yeah, I was the same way with Desiring God. I couldn't even get past the first chapter.

… Lots of dialogue about many things on the topic of calling and fear of wasting my life.

Me: Have you ever heard of the perspective of your first calling and second calling? (Ironically, a quick google search brought up these two results, which with some similarities can be drawn: Second Calling and Half Time)

Friend: No.

Me: Well, it's entirely possible that I just made it all up. Anyways, it's the idea that your first calling is to be a disciple of Christ. To follow Him and grow in that. And your second calling is what you do with yourself once you have become a Christian. How to live out the rest of your days.


And I've been wrestling with this for a long time. Every new season of my life, as I transition out of something I've been doing into the unknown. Every time I see other people pursue their dream and seemingly make large strides towards progress, I wrestle with this. And inevitably, I always come back to Micah 6:8… "And what has the Lord required of you, oh man? But to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."


Me: And I think in my most centered of moments, when I am most centered in God and trusting completely in Him, I can look at that verse and think to myself, "yes. This is enough." It's because I know that in every season of my life, every day of my life, I have brought Christ with me. I have brought Living Waters and all that I have learned with me. I know that I bear fruit in all that I do. And it is enough. It is enough to be in Christ and to live out my life well. My first calling is sufficient.

But when I am not centered. When I am watching my peers blow by me and go on to be and do great things, I start to wonder. I doubt. I fear. I become afraid that I'm wasting my life. What was previously enough suddenly isn't enough. And that drives me to want to do more. To be more. To be great. No. Not necessarily to be great, because that's just about me. It's more about… doing great things. To live a life worth living and to not waste it. It's the drivenness that alerts me to something being wrong. I know this logically. But my heart. The fear. It's real.

[more dialogue]

Friend: It sounds like the first calling is about being. And the second calling about doing. You are right to say that the first calling is the most important, because out of the being comes the doing. Most people don't get that. They start with the doing in order to become. That's where they get lost, as they are working towards a false sense of being and a false sense of self. I think if you are committed to your first calling of being a disciple, God will be faithful to reveal to you your second calling of doing.


Many more things were said, and many more things were processed, but I am a little too tired to thought dump anymore. I hope to revisit this during my vacation.

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