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Does Everybody Have A Calling On Their Life?

“Does everybody have a calling on their life? If so, what is my calling?”

Like the whole idea of purpose, both the world and Christianity have done a good job of confusing the concept of calling. Or making out like it takes a Master’s degree to figure it out.

And like with purpose, I have good news: figuring out your calling is easier than we’ve been taught.

Yes, everybody has a calling on their life

In fact, most people have more than one calling on their life. First, they have a calling related to the spiritual gift that has been given them. A popular list of spiritual gifts from the New Testament book of Romans looks like this:

  • Prophecy,
  • Service (or hospitality),
  • Teaching,
  • Giving,
  • Exhortation,
  • Mercy.

Read this article for more details about those gifts, and this article from the same website for an additional list of spiritual gifts that come mainly from the book of Corinthians.

I know what you’re thinking: “But not everybody is a follower of Jesus!” True. But what is God’s will? That all will come to repentance, right?

So I believe that God places in every person a spiritual gift in preparation that one day they will enter into Truth. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

This gift-related calling is one that God places inside you before you are born, and stays with you your entire life. It may manifest in different ways at different periods of your life, but it is always there. When and how it manifests depends on the skills and knowledge you have gained combined with your circumstances at any point in time. It also (and heavily) depends on how yielded you are to God.

Which brings us back to what non-believers do with their spiritual gifts. Some do nothing. Others operate in their gifts under the power of the devil by starting and leading a cult, or by becoming engaged with demonically-inspired religions such as New Age or Wicca.

Still others recognize and use their gift in a secular way. For example, one given the gift of teaching outside the knowledge of the Kingdom of God often ends up in a classroom setting. A person with the gift of administration will probably end up in management in a corporation, perhaps even heading a corporation.

You might be thinking how sad it is that so much power for God is lost because the lost don’t use – or they misuse – their spiritual gifts.

I think it’s even sadder that many people who profess faith in Jesus don’t use their gifts. Indeed, don’t even recognize them. Reading the articles I linked to a few paragraphs ago will help, if you are one of those.

Let’s move on with how to know your calling.

Your spiritual gift provides an overarching, lifelong calling that looks different at different seasons of your life. In addition, most people receive what I call “mini-callings” throughout their lives. These callings consist of walking out your purpose to create in service to others. They may be purely situational, or they manifest as a passion that a person develops.

Situational callings

A situational calling is easy to fall into. You look around you at the situation you are in and ask, “How can I be of service here? What can I create that will be a blessing to the other people in this situation?”

It may be as simple as creating a friendship with another person. It may involve giving of your finances or skills. It may consist of investing your time to counsel or share your knowledge with other people.

I believe God places a number of situational callings in everybody’s lives, one at a time over each person’s lifetime. If you’ve been wondering what your calling is, you’re probably walking in such a calling right now. The reason you haven’t realized it because you’ve been taught that a “calling” looks like someone preaching from a stage, or a writing bestselling book, or a living in poverty in a Third World country.

Passion-driven callings

Passion-driven callings arise from an intense desire to serve or create in a specific way. Such a desire results either from an innate talent – such as music, construction, or the visual arts – or from a painful experience. The person may have personally experienced the pain, or they empathize strongly with people who have experienced the pain. An easy example of this is a woman who has never been raped, but who knows the fear of becoming a potential victim and understands the horror of this kind of violation and therefore dedicates her life to helping rape victims to heal.

Passion-driven callings are easier to recognize than situational callings for one of two reasons (if not both): the calling raises the person to a place of precedence in society, or it causes the person’s whole life to revolve around it.

All that leads us to the next question…

How do I know what I’m called to do?

You figure out your calling in two ways. First, you study the situation you’re in right now. Are you somehow being a blessing to the world around you in this situation? Then you are doing what you are called to do – at least at this time in your life.

Second, you follow hard after God. You spend time with Him every day, in prayer and reading the Bible, and you take the next step that you know to take. The Father loves you, so if you are being faithful to communicate with Him and follow His command to love and serve, He will be faithful to lead you in the right direction.

In other words, stop worrying about “missing” your calling, and get busy being the Father’s love to the world around you! If you do and you’re not in your calling right now, you’ll eventually walk right into it without even trying!

Blessings to you.

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What Is My Purpose?

“What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What is the meaning of life?”

Through the ages, philosophers, theologians, and spiritual gurus have done their best to make a simple answer to a simple question as complicated as possible. And then there are the modern-day self-improvement gurus.

Taken together, they have made us believe that discovering our purpose in life requires a lot of time, many steps, a lightning bolt from heaven, and/or an expensive weekend conference. I’ll freely admit I’ve gotten sucked into that, and in my own writings have made finding out one’s purpose to be much more difficult than it actually is.

The truth is, every single human being shares the same purpose with every other. And the purpose is two-fold.

Your purpose in a nutshell

God created you in Their image (I use the plural there because God does so in Genesis: “Let Us make man after Our own image…” [Genesis 1:26 emphasis mine]). So our purpose is similar to that of God.

What is God’s essence? God is love. Therefore, the first part of our purpose is to love. We are to love God, other people, and ourselves. This love is the selfless kind that requires service. We love God by obeying both His written word and the words He speaks to our hearts in a still, small voice. We love ourselves by taking care of ourselves, body, soul, and spirit. We love others by helping out when we see a need, by forgiving, by respecting them even when we disagree with them on a sensitive issue.

God is love. Therefore, we are to love.

What does God do? God creates. He creates good things that express His love for the world. Therefore, the second part of our purpose is to create. Each and every one of us is a creative being. We are to create good things that express love to the world.

“But I can’t paint or write or sing or dance or draw or build! I couldn’t build a car out of Lego blocks to save my life! I’m not creative!”

If that’s what you’re thinking, I have good news for you today. The concept of creativity goes far beyond one’s ability in the visual or performing arts.

**You can create a positive atmosphere in your home or outside it by speaking positive words.

**You can create a better day for someone by encouraging them and smiling at them.

**You can create a more productive environment at work by guiding others to seek solutions to problems.

**You can create a love of learning in a child by being there for them, and sharing your knowledge and wisdom in engaging and interesting ways.

**You can create a better life for an orphan on the other side of the world by giving. Because creativity is often a cooperative endeavor.

**You can create a stronger sense of community in your neighborhood by regularly inviting your neighbors to cook-outs, picnics, and other kinds of get-togethers.

**You can create a healthy meal for your family.

There are an infinite number of ways you can create, each and every day. You may not be able to carry a tune in a bucket or to paint a wall without making it look like a two-year-old ravaged the paint can, but you still carry within you a vast potential to create…something.

What is your purpose? Your purpose is to love, and out of that love create good things. If you’re not sure what those “good things” are supposed to be – BAM! You’ve hit upon the next area of confusion many believers have about their lives: calling. I’ll talk about that in the next post.

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The Dangers Of Living In The Rural South

If you live in the northern United States, and you’re thinking about making the warm move to the southern United States, you might want to think again.

Especially if you want to live out in the country. We have some dangerous critters down here. And not just the beer-drinking rednecks who believe that eating healthy means taking the cheese off of a Big Mac. Oh, no. At least they have enough sense to stay out of somebody’s house when they’re not wanted.

Unlike fire ants, scorpions, and tarantula hawk wasps.

One night about three summers ago, I awoke to the feeling of a stinging, then burning, sensation on my back. J awoke in the next instant and verified that indeed, a fire ant had decided to try me out for a midnight snack. But fire ants are easy to kill, their bites easy to treat.

Not so for the critter that I encountered inside our composting toilet a few weeks ago. Now, when you use dirt to cover up your business, you’re going to end up with a bug in the toilet every once in a while. I’ve even had to coax a couple of wolf spiders out. And of course, house flies try every chance they can to get into the bucket. (We can’t smell the nasty, but they can.)

But even an off-grid homesteader doesn’t expect to see a wasp inside a compost toilet. Especially when the lid has been closed on it for a while.

However, that’s exactly what I saw that day. And not just any wasp. Not a relatively benign red-orange wasp, or a moody yellow jacket. Oh, no.

It was a tarantula hawk wasp. I immediately recognized  it by the way it was flitting its black wings as it walked around on top of the dirt.

In case you are unaware, tarantula hawks have the most painful sting of any stinging insect in North America. Can you imagine what might have happened if I had sat down to do my business, unaware, with that wasp underneath me?

No? Well, I’m not going to help you, because I don’t want to think about it!

The day did not end well for the wasp.

I thought I’d experienced the worst of close-ups with stinging critters. But my rural southern U.S. life wasn’t over!

The other night, I woke up to the feeling of something crawling on my left shoulder, just below my neck. That in itself was kind of crazy, because I was lying on my left side. Somehow, the intruder had managed to insinuate itself in the small space that my position left between the shoulder and neck.

Now, I ask you, what would you do if you felt something crawling on you in the middle of the night? Perhaps you’ve already experienced that glorious sensation, and know for a fact what you not only would do, but have done.

You probably freaked and brushed the thing off.

That’s what I did. I lifted myself up just enough to brush the thing away.

And it bit me.

At least, I thought it had bit me. It felt like a bite.

Things that bite or sting me don’t get to live. So the chase was on!

I reached for my flashlight to find the offender, and after shining it around for a couple of seconds, I found it clinging to the wall just a few inches above my pillow.

A baby scorpion.

At the same moment, the feeling on my shoulder intensified. Began feeling like a hot knife sticking into my skin.

“It’s a scorpion!” I told my husband, who was awake by now. “Help me!” I asked for help because those little buggers are known for skedaddling away pretty quickly. And I did not want to lose sight of him. For obvious reasons.

I wanted to squish the little bugger, but I wasn’t about to use my hand. For the same obvious reason. Luckily, I was holding onto a hard object.

SLAM! went the front end of my flashlight, right between the tail and body of the unwelcome visitor. I’d never tried to kill a scorpion before, and didn’t realize their bodies were so hard. So I pressed with all my might as the pain from the sting began to slide toward my shoulder joint and slither down my upper arm.

With his flashlight and a pair of tweezers, J came to my rescue, grabbing the scorpion with the tweezers and taking it away to parts unknown. When he picked it up, I saw its white guts oozing out in all directions. Good. It was dead.

After disposing of the critter, J brought me the helichrysum and peppermint (I think; maybe it was geranium) essential oils that I requested. I doctored up the sting, and the pain was gone in a few minutes.

Gone with the scorpion. Don’t tell B. While he lives to torture innocent grasshoppers and crickets, he thinks you’re a spawn of the devil if you kill a scorpion or centipede.

Go figure.

And then, go figure if you really and truly want to live in the rural Southern U.S. This life is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

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Mysterious Night Noises

Tap. Tap-tap-tap.

I frown, but keep my eyes closed. We’d all lost a couple of hours of sleep the night before, so I’m determined to get to sleep as soon as I can.

Tap. Tap-tap-tap.

I roll over, knowing J is awake because he’s reading his Kindle with his flashlight. “What is that?”

“I don’t know.”

The sound comes again. Last year for a while, B would kick the metal tub at the end of his bed – it contains his stuffed animals – while stretching out. The tapping might be that, but even though it doesn’t sound quite right I ask J, “Would you mind checking to see if B is awake?”

J’s answer is to slide out of bed with his flashlight, pull on his shorts, and walk over to B’s bedroom.

Tap. Tap-tap-tap.

I watch as my husband heads for the door. Leans down to peer under the shoe shelf by the door, shining the light underneath it. Then he goes outside for a minute, shining the flashlight this way and that in front of the house. I gather that when he was at B’s bedroom, he could tell the sound was coming from the front of the house.

In case you’re wondering why we couldn’t tell while in bed, it’s the bizarre acoustics of our small, dome-ceilinged, concrete dwelling. When someone’s talking or making a noise in the house, if they’re out of your line of vision it’s really hard to tell where they are. They could be on the other side of the wall from you, or on the opposite side.

Anyway, J finally comes in, returns to the bed. “I didn’t see anything.”

I don’t have to ask about the “anything.” When we first moved here and lived in the Tuff Shed, one night we were awakened by a possum with its head stuck in an empty milk jug, banging it around to try to get it off. Another night I was freaking about a persistent tapping noise at the back of the Tuff Shed, and when J went out to investigate, he discovered a mouse who was unsuccessfully attempting to pull a hickory nut underneath the shed with it. (J helped it so the noise would stop). And we know rats and raccoons abound on and around our homestead. So who knows what visitor we might have had that was trying to make mischief in front of our house.

“Did you hear anything while I was out?” J adds.

“No.” And so we assume that J has scared away whatever was making the noise.

I turn over and close my eyes.

A couple of minutes later, the sound comes again. A little fainter, so that J doesn’t hear it. With visions of a raccoon knocking an annoying paw against a window off and on for the rest of the night, I’m not going to sleep any time soon. So I get up – having to tell my suddenly-alert husband to stay in bed, because I don’t want his flashlight scaring off whatever it is – go to the door, and open it. As I do, color explodes into the sky above the mountain across from us, and the noise that accompanies it is much louder, familiar now.

Maybe I should mention that when you live in an earth-sheltered house, even the loudest sounds are muffled.

I turn and sort of quietly call to J, “It’s fireworks!”

Every year, the weekend before the Fourth of July, our neighbors up the mountain shoot off fireworks. And every year, I forget about their tradition until we start hearing them at bedtime. I might remember if we could actually see them. But usually, we don’t. Just hear the noise.

Closing the door, I look out the window for another minute, hoping to get another glimpse of the colorful sparks. When none are forthcoming, I go back to bed.

A few minutes later, a series of crackling pops occur. It turns out to be the finale, as there are no more taps or pops thereafter.

I turn over toward J, who is still trying to put himself to sleep with his book. “Now that,” I say, “sounded like fireworks.” My husband murmurs in agreement.

Where is our son during all this? Fast asleep in his bed.

Thank goodness.

Happy Independence Day. 🙂

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The Hernia That Never Was

I recently became convinced I had a hernia. Before I go on, let me tell you that for the past couple of years, every once in a while when I would roll over from my left side onto my back and happened to have my hand on the right side of my lower abdomen, I would feel a lump roll with me. Then sink down into the Netherlands of my bowels.

For several years prior, I would have to sit up in bed to sneeze because if I didn’t, a sharp pain would slice through that same spot.

During the past week, I have had obvious pain. And felt something like a hard lump in that area. Originally, I thought I’d just pulled the rectus abdominus muscle there. Because I pulled several other abdominal muscles, including my right oblique, when I attempted a leg lift for the first time since eighth grade.

Wanna know why? I wanted to strengthen my abs so that my back pain would go away. Can you say, “backfire”? (BTW, since then I’ve read that leg lifts – the kind you do while lying on your back – are actually bad for your lower back. FYI.)

Back to the injury. The pain persisted. As did the hardness. And I could feel that weird rolling. I began to wonder: could I have a hernia?

Never mind that most hernias afflict men, not women. I knew that I’d spent too many years with a weak core trying to lift and drag things that I had no business lifting or dragging. So I did the best thing you can do when you have worrisome physical symptoms, what any sane, responsible person would do: I went to the Internet to diagnose myself.

A hernia feels like a hard lump. Check.

A hernia hurts. Or not, depending on how big it is. Sometimes, this area hurt and sometimes it didn’t.

A hernia sinks back into place when you lie down. Check.

If you have a hernia and sneeze or cough, it’s likely to hurt. Check. Well, previously, anyway. Not so much that miserable week, but it didn’t matter. Didn’t matter that simply straining the rectus abdominus above the pubic bone can make coughing and sneezing painful as well.

Nope. Didn’t matter. I had a hernia.

I had myself convinced that surgery was in my future. I hadn’t just pulled a muscle when trying the leg lifts. I had caused a hernia – or made an existing hernia bigger.

Of course, J heard all about it, and he got as depressed as I was.

“If this isn’t significantly better by Friday,” I announced on Wednesday, “I’m going to set up an appointment with an internal medicine doctor to get a diagnosis one way or the other.”

Have I told you that I despise conventional medicine in general, and most doctors in particular? (Now, if you’re a doctor, don’t be offended. I said “most”, not “all.” Maybe you’re one of the few that actually knows that your patients have brains and patiently listen to everything they say and take their thoughts into consideration instead of acting like a…well, never mind.)

My point: for me to believe I should see a doctor means I’m seriously worried.

Two days passed and Friday came. The pain was diminishing. The day after I told J that the area felt hard underneath my skin, I checked it and it felt softer (can you say, “strained muscle relaxing”?) The pain became more intermittent, rearing its ugly head when I did work in the garden and feeling more like a stabbing pain than anything else.

One article I’d read on hernias vs. pulled muscles stated that hernia pain feels like an ache or burning whereas pulled muscles feel like sharp stabs. And that the pain will come up when you make the muscle work.

Did I tell you that hernias can’t heal themselves? They are holes in the muscle wall. They don’t get better over time.

All the while, I had been trying to feel a bulge when I was standing and walking around. Hernias show up as a bulge when you’re standing and walking around. I couldn’t find a bulge.

But I thought maybe all the middle-aged flab was hiding it. Was sure it had to be.

I tried the cough test. It not only didn’t hurt when I cough, but no bulge came out, either.

I was at my wits’ end. Hernia, or pulled muscle?

And then, it happened. I was lying on my back in bed, had been lying on my back for a few minutes, with my hand on my right lower abdomen.

And I felt it.

I felt that rolling underneath my hand. It rolled toward my pubic bone, and disappeared.

Hernias do not suddenly bulge when you’ve been lying on your back for several minutes. It was just gas or feces moving through my colon! Why, all the other times, did I feel it after having been on my left side for a few minutes and then rolling onto my back? Coincidence. That’s all.

I was so excited you would think someone had just handed me a million dollars. Relief flowed down over me like a refreshing rain.

I never had a hernia. Possibly scar tissue from previous injuries that I never treated correctly so that the area strains more easily and hurts longer when I re-injure it.

But I can live with that. Even know how to reduce it.

Thank goodness! Now I can be happy and go on with – wait a minute. Right under my bellybutton it hurts something awful. Ouch. This is too weird. What’s wrong with me now? Could it be…could it be…

CANCER OF THE BELLYBUTTON??

 

 

 

 

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