Another one has bitten the dust. Another one has decided on a new course of action, ostensibly to lead to a different career field. Another one has claimed “calling” or a “sense of call” or the “results of prayer” in making the decisions.
And I simply have trouble believing it when I hear it.
Basically, I think what is happening is this:
- A believing student begins to feel uncomfortable in a major academic field
- The student searches around and finds something s/he feels more comfortable with, at a given moment.
- The student figures the easiest way to tell believing professors in field X of the impending change is to say “I’ve prayed about it, and I sense the Lord calling me into Y now.”
But when Y doesn’t work out, either, what does that do to our concept of God? Is He fickle? Does He push us one way and then pull us another way, just to see what we’ll do? I suppose there are a few biblical examples of that kind of thing, but those examples don’t mean that moving this way is to be thought of as an M.O. for God throughout the ages.
Aside: it strikes me today, in completing my reading of the Genesis narrative, that there can be an element of arrogance involved in suggesting that my present situation, for example, is a result of providence, as Joseph’s situation was in Egypt. God was working an eternal purpose for an entire nation-to-be then, and history was summed up in Jesus the Anointed One. Why should I brazenly suggest that I am in NY under a similar arrangement with the Almighty? I know, I know, God loves me and pays attention to me and “sings over me” (thanks, Zephaniah and Dennis Jernigan). I believe He loves me, but I don’t believe I have the historical, redemptive significance of Isaac or Jacob or Joseph or Ruth or David. Maybe of Zaccheus? :-)
Back to our thoughts on the present now. One college junior has already been through two major curriculum-changes — once during the summer after his freshman year, and again a few months later — all supposedly based on a sense of “calling.” I was embarrassed for him when he told me all about “God’s call” from the second area into the third, but he didn’t seem sheepish at all. On the contrary, he was confident. I tried to listen empathically and tried to say something supportive, but down deep, I found his rationale, well, not rational and very subjective.
I really don’t intend to be questioning the potential work of God in a human life today, but I don’t see as much evidence of His actually, observably working in this way as some claim to see.
So many students seem to hear a “call” into the arena of worship leading. When one has some music talent and a pretty good work ethic, one’s peers can easily push one into a state in which more and more sense of self-worth comes from this “worship leading” activity. Add to this picture the portrait of a cool mentor in the “worship band” and sound field – someone with a good deal of charisma — and you have an even more magnetic pull. But is this attraction the work of God, or of human thought and emotion?
Now, I would hasten to add that I have for many many years found exceptional value in worship leading. There is something deep within my soul that exclaims, in response to such senses of call. “Yes, yes! Do this great thing for the kingdom. Serve all your brothers and sisters. Usher them into a consciousness of the presence of God. And, as you do this, I will live vicariously through you, for my heart has the same longing. Thank you, thank you for your affirmations of what I have meant to this point in your life … and now I know you are going on to something better.”
But the louder thoughts arise and supplant: ”I know you think you’re moving into something more important, and true worship is more important, but you will find that all this flurry of churchy activity and flashy sound stuff ultimately fizzles. Your prayers and your idea of God’s call are sincerely perceived, I am sure, but such sincerity does not necessarily translate into long- or even short-term Kingdom reality.”