It has been a long journey on this path of discovery. Should I be a doctor, pastor, professor, project leader, journalist, or freelance writer? These careers were all possibilities and some I have embraced and lived out. But deciding on “The One” has led to years of seeking, striving, and at times outright confusion. Until recently.
“The One” that I’m referring to is my purpose – the reason God put me on this earth. I no longer have to search because I now realize that it was with me all along, waiting to be discovered in the small, sometimes seemingly meaningless tasks I do every day. This epiphany happened while flipping through the pages of a book called The Will of God as a Way of Life. It now sits within reach on my shelf, with many dog-eared pages covered in highlights, stars, and scribbled notes.
The theme of the book is that God’s will for our lives is not something out there in the future but is in front of us right now. We just need to listen and pay attention to what God is saying and doing in our lives – today. “We discover our calling, then, not by trying to plan our life out ten years in advance but by being attentive to what God is doing through immediate circumstances and in the present moment,” author Jerry Sittser explained. “Over time our sense of calling will unfold simply and naturally, as scenery unfolds to backpackers hiking their way through the mountains.” It is a journey taken one step at a time, without trying to predict what will happen next or to force desired outcomes. In fact, failures or closed doors can serve as helpful guideposts to what we shouldn’t be doing or possibly what isn’t the most important thing – at least not right now.
In seminary I heard a strange term that I could barely pronounce, but it continues to resurface in my life and did again as I read this book. The word is “adiaphora,” and, borrowed from the Greek, it means “indifferent things” – basically “it doesn’t matter.” Famous reformer John Calvin from Geneva, Switzerland used the word to distinguish between doctrinal and cultural issues – i.e. what was foundational vs. changeable. Today, it’s an important word because it reminds me, as Sittser’s book repeatedly confirms, that much of what we labor over, worry about, and sometimes end up physically sick over doesn’t really matter. Does God care what career I choose – whether it be a physician, a pastor, or a writer? Or is God more concerned with how I help heal people either through my hands, my mind, or my pen?
Whether as a mom, a writer, or a Bible study teacher my calling is beyond a role or a career. In fact, as a Christian I have one main calling – to follow Jesus and make disciples wherever I go. Sittser summed it up well, “Whether young or old, ordinary of extraordinary, poverty-stricken or pampered, everyone is called by God to trust, serve, and obey him.”
The rest – Adiaphora!
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 NIV