Sometimes God calls us to big things that feel like more than we can handle, and we want to pull a Jonah, jump in a boat and sail away.
But sometimes, God calls us to the opposite.
Sometimes he calls us to little things, daily things, like changing diapers or making a meal or loving that hard-to-love coworker. And we wonder, "Is this all you've got for me?"
I quit my part-time ministry job about a year ago to stay home with the Littles. I had a lot of peace about quitting, and I still do. But that doesn't mean I didn't struggle with the decision. I wasn't sure if spending my time wiping up spills, playing Candy Land, and re-directing tantrums all day, every day would make me feel like I was really using my gifts. As I was in the process of deciding what to do, my fear was that this would be the end of using those gifts, that it would be the end of doing ministry.
Now before you all go a bit crazy on me and start telling me that raising kids is one of the best things I could be doing...I know. Really. I do.
I think what I mostly struggled with was my sense of identity. What would I say when someone asked, "What do you do?" I liked having a title. I felt like I had something to contribute to the conversation. Would I be content to say, "I'm at home with my kids."?
Here's what I learned in seminary, but what I really learned when I quit my job: we are all called to love God and love our neighbours, to participate in God's Kingdom, to be bearers of hope and shalom, wherever we are. That's our first call. That's what it's all about. And we can do that whether we are stay-at-home parents or engineers, writers or chemists, artists or doctors, students, international aid workers, missionaries, taxi drivers, or teachers.
There is nothing newsworthy about most of my days, nothing glamourous. You won't receive a letter asking for your support for some big missionary adventure on which I'm about to embark. I'm just here, trying to live my faith, trying to love the Littles, recognizing how much I still need to learn about grace and patience and self-giving love.
We commission pastors and missionaries. We have a special service where we pray over them and make promises to support and encourage them. Maybe we should commission everyone who wants to live this first call. Because the thing about this call, this call that gets lived out in the ordinary places of our lives, is that it's not all that easy. It's in the nitty gritty stuff of life where we are shaped, where the rough spots are smoothed out (or not), where we can practice loving others well (or not) even when we don't really want to.
Sometimes God's call feels too small because it's not that exciting, and we don't see how being faithful in this moment really makes a difference. It doesn't feel like we're moving mountains or changing the world. But what if the small stuff, the ordinary stuff (like how we treat people or how we spend our money), matters because in the small stuff is an opportunity to love God and love our neighbours?