My favorite answer to the question “how long have you been a Christian” that I have heard is “nearly 2000 years.” The Eastern Orthodox Christian friend who gave that answer was speaking not of his own spiritual journey, but to the truth that he was called to journey with Christ — and his Christianity was more identified with Christ’s time on earth than his own.
While I cannot easily point to a time when I was not Christian — faith has always been an important part of my family, I can point to my first real sense of Christian vocation. As a young teenager, in a lazy summer night in June — during a period of private prayer after a reading from the Old Testament, I had a mystical experience where I was called to a Christian life that was more dependent upon my relationship with Christ than with family, or institutional church. A relationship that was about obedience to God, rather than solely living well in community.
Out of this, a process started where I believed I was called to find a way of preaching a gospel of resurrection, recognizing the implications of a risen Christ — both in the sense of divine presence, and in the sense of participation in Resurrection for transformation. I wanted to share a soteriology that called us to be saved on Earth. I ended up at Barclay college, preaching boring sermons to people much more mature than myself. I also eventually ended up doubting my sense of calling when I was not successful in the ways that I had hoped. While I feel that this calling goes beyond the Society of Friends, I also feel a specific calling to serve within the Society of Friends.
I’ve had moments of calling to a specific place and time — recently, in ways that have lead to a drastic changes in life. I’ve had a sense that there was a message for a people — but, I struggle with the question of long term vocation. When people speak of calling and work as if they are the same, I feel disappointed as I know that I will be expected to do things that I don’t feel a strong special calling for — though, I still feel called to encourage people to live in the power of the resurrection.
Currently, I am in a period of discernment. While I have some strong feelings, related to older leanings I cannot claim clarity for the near future. I guess the best way of explaining this is I feel I’ve been in a process of cumulative calling. While I don’t feel released from Friends, nor from the gospel of the Resurrection — I am not yet sure of how to best live out the calling. At the moment, I feel interested in somewhat local itinerant preaching — however, I’m not sure that there is a system to support this leading.