byJaymie Stuart Wolfe
I love the readings that talk about how God calls us "by name," "before [we] were born," even "before the foundations of the world." It is truly amazing that the God who made the universe, who is beyond what our minds can grasp, not only knows each one of us completely, but wants each one of us to belong completely to him.
We've all had the experience of being "called." Remember what it felt like to be called on in class when you knew the answer? Or how your heart pounded when your name was called because you made the team, or got the part, or passed the audition? What about the flutter of nervousness you felt when your mom told you the boy or girl on the other end of the phone had asked for you? Remember hearing your name announced at graduation? Or your confirmation name spoken by the bishop? Being called can be nerve-wracking, or even downright scary. But it is always exciting.
So if God is always calling, and everyone is being called, there's one question that stands like an elephant in the nave. Why don't more people answer? Maybe it's because not all of us realize that we are being called. I remember failing to respond when a nurse at my doctor's office called me by my new last name just a few months after we were married. She repeated my name a few times before it registered that yes, she was in fact talking to me!
On the other hand, it may be that we don't recognize just who is calling us. I know I don't answer the phone before I check the caller ID. When it comes to discerning God's call, it doesn't help that there are a lot of voices whirring around both outside us, and within us. Those voices can distract, overwhelm, or fool us. They can sound like someone--or something--they aren't. And too, listening to everything can make it almost impossible to really listen to anything. I, for one, could never study with classical music playing. No matter how low the volume was, I would find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again.
Perhaps it's that there's just no signal. After three and a half years of commuting to Jamaica Plain, I know where most of the dead spots are and where to expect the possibility of losing a call. What I may not know is where the "dead spots" are in my life. That is, which aspects of how I live just aren't very receptive to God's call. Bad habits, sins, narrow-heartedness, fear, any unwillingness or reticence to forgive: these may keep God's call from even getting through.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how God calls us not only to himself, but also to each other. In fact, it seems more and more to me that God calls us to himself through one another. If I'm open to the possibility that the people I encounter today are placed there by God, everyone becomes his gift -- and his presence -- to me. If I can begin to acknowledge that I might be brought into a situation for what I can give and not for what I can gain from it, I can begin to see myself as the gift God intended me to be -- one only I can give.
So, how do we get the call out? We keep repeating it everywhere we go; we allow it to echo richly in our own lives; we show what answering God's call looks like; and we get busy building more transmission towers.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an inspirational author, speaker, musician and serves as an Associate Children's Editor at Pauline Books and Media.