By Pastor Tim Westermeyer
One of the major themes of the Lutheran tradition is the concept of vocation—the idea that God calls each of us to a particular type of work in this life. It’s a way of affirming that God has written you into God’s story, and you have an important part to play in it.
The question, of course, is what, exactly, is your part? How are you supposed to live out your role in this story written by God?
Well, the good news is that I do believe God wants to try to communicate your role to you. The bad news is that there are a couple of things working against you—and everyone else, for that matter.
The first is that God tends not to shout at us. As it says in 1 Kings 19, the voice of God came to Elijah in “a sound of sheer silence.” Or, in some translations, as “a gentle whisper.”
The fact that God speaks to us quietly and gently is compounded by the fact that the world is a noisy place. As C.S. Lewis said more than half a century ago—when there weren’t TVs and smart phones and the distractions of social media—“we live in a world starved for silence.”
If you’d like to try to hear the gentle whisper of God trying to speak to you about your part in that story—then I’d encourage you to get in the habit of trying to listen for God’s voice. That is one of the upsides of this pandemic—it’s created some space in our lives to be still and hear God’s voice. Listening doesn’t just mean sitting quietly, though. It can also mean paying attention to questions like these:
- What do you love to do? God speaks through our passions.
- What do people you trust say you’re good at? Maybe God is whispering to you through those mentors and guides.
- Are there moments for you when you lose track of time entirely? Maybe that’s a hint that you are closer to God—and eternity –in those moments. God may be trying to say something to you.
As you’re listening for this elusive voice of God in a noisy world, consider the following quote from Frederick Buechner:
“The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done.” He concludes his short reflections on this topic of calling or vocation by saying this same sentiment in a slightly different way: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
As you continue to live out your stories—as you figure out the next chapter of the story of your life, wherever you find yourselves—I pray that each of you may find this place that not only satisfies your deepest desires, but also helps to change the world. God bless you.