The dusky light of summer’s slow fade into autumn makes its way through partially drawn curtains, and I read until the darkness is too thick to find the black ink on white paper. The tiny boy in my arms seems to encompass most of my calling in life in this season, and most of the time I am embracing the calling.
I hold a restless little body in my arms, and every time I place him in his bed – slowly removing my hand from beneath his fuzzy head one fraction of an inch at a time – those little eyes open wide as can be the instant my index finger ceases to touch him.
Maybe I could learn something from this boy who can’t stand to be outside the grip of grace.
Maybe I should become a little more attentive to the Father’s touch on my life – jolting up wide-eyed in awareness the instant I move away from the guidance of his gentle right hand.
For the fifth time, I lift the little one from his bed and return to my vigil by the window. I remind myself that this is my calling in life for this season.
I’d like to be sleeping so that I have the energy to get onto the other work of my life when morning dawns, but I remind myself that for now, this is the work to which I am called.
This is the work of nurturing little souls throughout all hours of the day and night.
This is the work of caring for basic needs, feeding little mouths, and rocking little bodies until sleep finally comes. And it is holy work
Not long ago, a friend pointed out the way we often associate the holiest moments of encountering God’s presence with silence, solitude, and peace. We think of coffee on seashores, sunsets over rolling fields, and serene moments along lake-sides with open Bibles and worshipful hearts.
These moments are holy for sure. God’s presence often feels palpable in these places.
But God’s presence is just as real – his holiness is just as near – when we are splashing in those not-so-serene waters with our children, breaking up arguments, correcting them about keeping their hands to themselves, and managing the chaos of our everyday lives.
I ponder it all as I ponder the idea of a calling.
We are prone to assume that a calling is all about what we are doing.
We speak of the holy calling of motherhood,
the calling to minister to others,
the calling of career,
the calling of friendship,
and each of these callings entails the details of our “doing.”
But we’re missing the primary truth about our callings. Ruth Haley Barton reminds us of the truth we often miss when it comes to calling: Calling is first of all about who we are, not what we do.
When I first encountered Ruth’s words, they shocked me. I thought she was wrong.
However, digging a little deeper, I know she speaks the truth.
Before you are called to be a mother, a nurse, a wife, a Sunday school teacher, an evangelist, or anything else, you are called to be the beloved of Christ. Quite literally, Jesus calls you beloved, and this is your primary calling.
When you realize that you are precious, cherished, and chosen, you are free to drift in and out of life’s various assignments without using those assignments to determine your worth or your identity.
When you realize that above all else, you are beloved, you can survive the catastrophic loss of a ministry, a mission field, a dream, or a career.
And so, before you decide that your calling isn’t what you hoped it would be before you slap a label on your life and assume you couldn’t go on without it, before you think of telling others what you do with your days, remember your primary calling.
Live out of the identity of a beloved child who is so cherished that you were bought for a price. You are so precious to your Father that he gave the life of his Son so that you could have life. Nothing can take his love away from you. He will never abandon you.
I consider these truths as the little one finally settles into a deep sleep, jaw agape as the humid night air wafts through the open window. I place him gently in his bed, and this time, he doesn’t stir. He rests, just as he is, and I embrace the opportunity to do the same.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Staceypardoe.com