Do you remember what it was like inside the womb?
Maybe some of us have some sort of memory there, embedded deep inside of our minds and hearts. But most of us are just told what it’s like, and what it was like the day we left the bodies of our mothers to enter the world.
In the womb, everything seemed to be taken care of—everything in place to keep you safe and growing to fullness, so that you could make your way into the world.
No matter how much we long for it, though, we cannot go back because we have been called out into the world.
This weekend we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday. This little boy was named after two different prophets, and so we were ready for him to be filled with a little fire from the time of his birth. I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful it would be, though.
Every year that we celebrate with him, I see the things that come alive, the ways in which he finds his place in the world, even as a four year old. His father gave him the task to “find the things that are wrong and make them right,” and nothing could speak truer to his warrior heart.
He was called from within the womb, and now every day of his life, he’s still called.
We all are.
So what now?
What now, when we may be 80, 40, 2 years separated from that womb?
Dear friend, we’re still being called.
I spent the last month away from my husband, solo parenting my two little ones.
It’s been a season of stretching, a lot of time to be alone, to make decisions on my own, and still I’ve found that God is calling.
We’re being called to grow up, to begin making decisions and walking in directions I never thought we’d be walking in. And while it’s hard and scary, I know that it’s really what we’re always doing– we are always answering a call.
And it’s a call that starts in the beginning.
I don’t mean grow up like, hey, get some chest hair!
I mean grow up by taking on the calling of our lives, growing up by aligning ourselves with the reality of God by coming to the realization that we are forever-learners.
Sometimes we’re called to be quiet.
Sometimes we’re called to leave what we know for something we don’t know.
Sometimes we’re called to be more like the children again.
Whatever it is—God never stops calling.
And the difficult balance is between what we know and trust inside ourselves and what we need to know and hear from others in friendship and community. Somehow, God works in the midst of all of those things, and somehow, the truth of God is where we’ll find ourselves at the end of this life.
But until then, we trust the reality that we are always called.
If we stop and look at the world around us, we’ll remember that things still work as they’re created to work. It’s a cooler day today for summer in Georgia, and still the squirrels and birds fight over bird feeders. Still the world spins and works its magic and shows that it’s simply existing in its own creation–in its calling.
We are experiencing this volatile moment in history in which we all say that God calls things one way or another way. We say that our leaders are ordained by God, or we get up and leave our churches in huge droves because we don’t trust that leadership anymore. It is exhausting to find the call of God on our lives sometimes.
And it’s even more exhausting to figure out that calling for an entire nation or people group or little church parish, for that matter.
Despite what we believe about ourselves and each other–God is still calling us. And we don’t get to tell each other what that calling means, but we get to line up that calling with the words and life of Jesus, who lived into a calling that toppled systems of oppression, a calling told in beautiful metaphor and stories.
That same Jesus also taught us to pray, to gather ourselves up, jump in a boat, and run to the wilderness for quiet, for refilling–to hear what is being called of us.
Right now I can say that I have no idea what my future holds, except that I’ve got a book coming out on November 7th, a book that was called out of me. I know that I am called to be a mother and a wife, a writer, a storyteller, to walk in my Potawatomi heritage and my Christian heritage, to ask questions of and to challenge the church that I love and want to see become healthy again.
But it’s scary outside the womb. It’s cold and sometimes lonely and there are people capable of great good and great evil.
Growing up is hard. Leaving the womb is hard.
Identifying the call is hard.
But it’s possible, because God never, ever stops calling.
Nearly a year ago, as I began asking what it means to be a Potawatomi woman and a Christian, I began having dreams. In native culture (and in many cultures for that matter) dreams are really important–they are a way of being called. My dreams were significant. They were dreams that gave me a name, that called me, that beckoned me into transformation. They were dreams that I knew were both a call and a response–God was responding to my questions and calling me deeper in at the same time.
Even in being called, we continue to ask. We continue to dream and cast vision and wish and hope for a deeper and more whole kind of living–a shalom kind of existence.
Even if you’re not having dreams that call you, there is a whole world waiting to show itself to you and to me. Our calling today, far removed from that womb we once knew, is the same calling that we had inside that womb–to ask, seek, and knock, just as Jesus will always ask, seek and knock.
This is the back and forth of calling and receiving, of dreaming and believing, of asking and answering.
With every call comes a response.
As we grow up, our choice to respond, no matter how scary and unknown the call, may be what saves us.
This is the beckoning of shalom.
Hallelujah and Amen.