What does it mean to be called — Part 4: Theological

The idea of vocation says a lot about God. A God who calls individuals to a work, a lifestyle, or a kind of relationship is a God who is highly personal. In order for a person to have a vocation, that person must be able to hear God’s voice in some way — meaning God currently speaks to humanity, and has throughout the experience of the church. It also means that God’s will is somehow discernible enough to be obeyed.

Unfortunately, our human experience of vocation also shows us that we are not that good at hearing and understanding God. People who try to be obedient sometimes end up listening to themselves, or those around them failing to recognize which of the many voices they hear is God’s voice. Even using the best methods that we have discovered, our ability to discern what is from a divine source, and what is from another source has an imperfect record. What this tells us is that God rarely calls people with a blinding light, or strikes them down with lightning. God’s most common methods are the still small voice which is often drowned out by all the other noises.

Fortunately, this suggests something about God. It suggests that God, with rare exceptions, is either subtle in methods, or even leaves people alone when they are not deliberate about listening. It implies that God does not act like a bored child and demand all of our space and attention. This theological understanding of God suggests, also, that even though God may not be absence, we must stop long enough to recognize God’s presence. Even though God might not have stopped speaking, we have to listen long enough to hear God’s voice.

God, for some reason does not speak infinitely loud, nor does God show God’s full glory. It is said that God’s glory is enough to kill, but God seems to go beyond protecting us from the brightness of unhidden glory. God seems to stay quiet in every case but an emergency, and at times — God seems to even hide from those who desperately want to hear God’s voice. While the Church teaches a broad vocation — there are times that God apparently wants us to figure it out for ourselves.

What this tells me about God is that God is not like one of our petty bosses that micromanages the workers. That God, for some reason, puts some faith in our ability to figure things out with limited direction. It appears that God’s goal is to point us in the right direction and let us work. This, could, explain how a mystic such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta could write about how she stopped experiencing God’s presence after obeying God’s call — she no longer needed the old level of intensity to live in obedience.

What this tells me about God, and God’s relationship with humanity, is that God not only desires relationship, but for some reason a level of independence. We are, in a sense God’s children, but the way people experience vocation tells me that God eventually hopes for adult children. God hopes that we grow as best as humanity allows, helping and guiding without stunting our growth.

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