How does one dial into God’s calling? Every major theistic religion offers an answer to this perplexing question, and recently PBS ran a special that documented the process of call among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
I am fascinated by the stories of people seeking to discern God’s direction , but what really caught me in the PBS special was the honest depiction of the influence of community in that search. Each person’s story was told within the wider context of community. The journey of each person was not depicted as a private matter of solo person on a solitary road. Instead, the nuclear family and the family of faith of those seven people helped frame, forge and fortify the emerging faith of the seeking person.
“The Calling” caught the social dimension of faith formation. But it missed a critical dimension. It missed the existence and the experience of God.
Question: does God really extend invitations to people to take part in what God wants to carry out? Or, as PBS assumed, is the discernment of call merely and matter of what the community of faith needs to self-perpetuate?
Like many depictions of faith, the PBS special presupposed a closed universe in which faith is merely a human experience of projection. But the Bible offers another presupposition: the world is not a closed universe, but it is open to the God who created it, and this God is both invested and involved in a project of world reclamation.
In my experience, the discernment of God’s call does involve the affirmation of a faith community. But the origin of that call, I believe, comes from a personal, God who reveals his will and invites participation. That’s the side of the story that PBS ignored. And that’s why is always wise to assume that there is more to the story than meets the eye.