A sense of call is an important source of strength when we navigate through difficult times. This period in history is certainly a dark valley for women and men that work for racial or ethnic equity, understanding, and reconciliation. This week most of us witnessed, by television or internet, Caucasian police killing African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota. Later we were stunned by the actions of an African American sniper shooting at police in Dallas at a Black Lives Matter rally.
In subsequent interviews, a number of social activists have described themselves as depressed, fatigued, confused, and angry. A journalist commented that segments of the population are wounded and enraged. We instinctively understand the discouragement of this moment for Christians who work for God’s rule of justice, mercy, and the dignity of each human life. As Canadians, we pray that God will call leaders in America to speak messages of honesty, confession, and reconciliation in regard to personal and social evils. We can ask God to raise up a new generation of Christians that will offer their gifts and abilities to bring healing and hope. Their vocations will require courage and conviction.
The power of a sense of call has been part of our conversations in the past month. I will give two examples. Adrian and his family never envisioned leaving Atlantic Canada where they have deep roots. This summer they will relocate to Toronto in response to a call of the Spirit. Adrian, a pastor, was drawn into international ministry through a trip to Bolivia several years ago. There he witnessed the impact of Chagas Disease on rural families. He returned to Canada with a call to raise awareness and support in his area for Chagas programs. Over the intervening years other human issues in the Global South have touched Adrian’s heart and deepened his call. He is moving to Toronto in order to lead a program of Christian volunteers that, among other things, will help people in Bolivia to protect their homes from the vinchuca insect that is the main vector for Chagas Disease. Adrian’s life has been transformed by a call.
Elizabeth is a Ph.D. student from Uganda. She was studying law at a university when she felt the Spirit’s call to abandon her studies and become a sister in a Catholic order. God seemed to be whispering in her ear that real change would come through nurturing faith and working for justice as a nun. She recently spent more than seven months in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo doing research in the impact of mining. The work was dangerous. She regularly changed her place of residence, and even her appearance. Elizabeth shared with us that she has not regrets about leaving law to follow the Spirit’s call although it sometimes exposes her to danger.
There are many moving call narratives in the scriptures. The eighth century BCE prophet Isaiah was in the temple during a time of national crisis (Isa. 6). He describes being overwhelmed by a mystical experience that transported him into the presence of God. He becomes aware of the personal and social evil around him in which he participates. A burning coal purifies his voice and he offers his life in service to God. There is a sober warning that his mission will be directed to people who deliberately choose to be deaf and blind to the events around them and to God’s message for their times. During difficult periods, I am sure that the certainty of his call gave Isaiah strength to remain true to his vocation.
I pray that God will call thousands of men and women of every age cohort to serve his kingdom in the places of violence, anger, and despair.