I was afraid of questions like: "Have you already found your call?" Or "What is your vocation in life?" because I felt a failure to answer, "I'm not sure." As a senior student and college student, I felt so much pressure to understand what God wanted me to do with the rest of my life. Everyone seemed to expect my whole life to be mapped before graduation.
The subject of the call is so popular in Christian circles, but it can bring so much fear and frustration to those of us who have not "understood everything yet". Christians usually limit the definition of a call to mean a career or a commitment to be a missionary or in the ministry. What I would like to have known when I was younger is that the idea of God's call is actually much wider than those two areas and that His call should not be as intimidating as it seems.
A call is simply a tug in our hearts of God towards a particular thing. A call can be for a specific situation, for a season of life or for a life. While every Christian has a main call – living a life of obedience to God – every Christian also has an individual call. God calls each of us to different things, such as relationships, work, ministries, cities, etc. At different times in our life. Sometimes he calls us to start doing things, and sometimes calls us to stop doing things. Sometimes he calls us to go, and sometimes calls us to stay where we are.
When we notice that we are attracted to something, the task of discerning whether God is what attracts us in that direction or whether it is our desire to pull ourselves there may seem impossible, but it is certainly possible. If you are feeling a push toward something and not sure if it comes from Him, here are some ways we can say if God is what the call is doing:
1. A call from God will never contradict Scripture. This may seem obvious, but it can be surprisingly easy for us to yield to a desire that does not correspond to how Scripture calls us to live. If the thing you feel called to make you sin, it's not from God. God's calls for us always draw us close to him, they do not turn us away from him. (2 Corinthians 10: 4-6, 2 Timothy 3: 16-17)
2. A call from God will always be accompanied by his peace, as well as everything else we need. Sometimes God asks us to do something big or scary, and while we may be afraid, our fears will be met by God's overwhelming grace and peace to do whatever He asks us to do. Furthermore, he will never call us to something without even getting ready to do the thing he is asking us to do. (Matthew 11: 28-30, Philippians 4: 7)
3. A call from God will often be accompanied by a confirmation. Many times God will confirm what he is asking us to do through situations and also through other people. If you're not sure of a potential call in your life right now, ask God to explain it to you by sending you some sort of confirmation. He does not want you to be confused, so do not hesitate to ask him for wisdom. (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-21, James 1: 5)
4. A call from God will always result in his glorification. While our calls can and often benefit us, both by growing us and by blessing us, eventually any call given by God will indicate to Him. If your vocation seems to be all about happiness and success without any thought, thanks or credit given to God, it probably is not from him. (1 Corinthians 10:31, 2 Thessalonians 1: 11-12)
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember when you understand your call is obedience to God. If you seek His will with an obedient heart, He will make it clear to you, and when He makes it clear, I encourage you to do whatever He asks you to do right away. I learned from experience that delayed obedience translates into delayed blessings. So if it's asking you to stay calm, be comfortable so that it can start working in your situation. If he is asking you to get up and go, get up and go so he can work in you and through you. First we obey, first we can begin to work for His final glory and our highest good.