My sense of calling in my early Christian life was very much outward focused. They were the days where I had no ties and my commitments were few so I could respond to where I felt God called me to act. I used all the holidays my employers would give me to go on short-term missions where God acted in amazing and indisputable ways. That time was such an adrenaline rush that I wanted to leave secular employment and do it full-time.
Every so often since I would find myself thinking that I’d quite like to be a vicar but always assumed that every Christian thought this and so would dismiss it. Ordained ministry would crop up in conversations with friends but again I would dismiss it as being the same as a conversation about any job. Yet when several friends left for theological college I would feel a sense of envy.
Marriage brought a new purpose for knowing God’s calling. Our commitment to each other saw much prayer about what He wanted us to do individually and together. We both felt a very clear sense that I was called to train as a primary school teacher, a path I duly took. I got short-term jobs and was a regular supply teacher at several schools. School Inspectors and teachers commended me but a long-term teaching job elluded me. The apparent failure of my teaching career was devastating. It led to several years of wandering in the desert places, feeling disconnected from God and doubting whether I could ever hear Him speak.
To this day I don’t quite understand what happened but understand that it is human logic that says if God calls you to train as a primary school teacher He must be calling you to teach in a primary school. God has a grand plan for each of us that He only reveals on a step by step basis. His plans are not so easily read and as a person who likes to plan I’ve wrestled with that for years.
Then one day, this January, I was out for a run. Conversations came to mind that my wife and I had had leading up to Christmas where we vehemently declared that there was no way I would ever become ordained. There was no way my wife or I would put our children though another career change. But something was telling me I should at least explore such a path. As I ran on it was as though Moses had struck his staff into my stony spirit and the Holy Spirit came rushing in. Getting home I gingerly told my wife what happened and was amazed to find her agreeing that we should explore it.
Confirmations and powerful occurrences have happened to confirm that this exploration is God’s current calling for me. He has built up my confidence in my ability to hear Him speak by giving me visions and pictures. Sometimes personal, sometimes for others, they have often defied the human logic my mind thrives on but have encouragingly borne fruit.
I am only at the very beginning of exploring a calling that God may have patiently been whispering to me for over a decade. I’ve no idea where the path will end up, whether in ordained ministry or just with a stronger connecting with God. Like Justin Welby alluded to when talking about his calling, part of me feels as though I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into ordained ministry, but if that is where God is calling me I am finally willing to do it.