We have gone a-questing.
We are full of breath and life and anticipation... and dread and foreboding and a rising sense of something coming up the path to meet us.
And that thing is neither good nor bad.
When I set out to brainstorm this series, and the word "path" came to mind, I kept thinking of the Camino. The path that pilgrims set out upon to have a spiritual experience.
And I cannot say that calling is not altogether a spiritual experience.
In fact, the experience of following calling is a completely spiritual experience, and to say otherwise is to be lying to ourselves. If we think it's only about career, or only about making money, we are kidding ourselves and selling short our lives.
Our lives are not only about making enough money to survive and then, when we have done so for a sufficient number of years, dying and moving on to a land where we don't have to do that anymore.
It is true that in the life to come we will not struggle to survive.
But it is also true that in this life we are to do more than that.
We are set a path to walk. God has placed us upon the road, and we see Him before us, as a pillar of cloud that gleams in the pale-strong autumn sunlight. We see Him transform into a pillar of fire that snaps and crackles and pops under the stars.
Isn't it interesting that in the night of our journey, God becomes the light for us when all other lights go out.
We see Him before us -- He goes before us, the Psalms tell us. He is behind us, too -- a gentle hand on our shoulder, a whisper in our ear that tickles the hairs along our spine. He is invisible; we cannot see Him -- but we sense His presence the way we can tell when someone is behind us. And His is not foreboding: it is a comfort.
The Psalms also tell us that He is on our every side: "The LORD is the shade on your right hand." Without Him, we do not turn aside to the right or to the left. I can almost feel Him holding my hand, keeping my shoulders straight, guiding me like the leader in a dance.
He has set us on the path, and He is our companion.
And the path is nothing if not the path of our adventure. I can think of nothing other than when Bilbo Baggins talks about stepping onto the road.
When we take our deep breath and say okay to calling, to following, that is when we take our first steps out our door. It is when we put our feet to the dust of the path beneath us.
Personally, I'd rather be barefooted all the time (it's kind of my MO), but maybe the path is tough enough that it calls for boots.
In my mind I can feel the dusty path under my toes.
It feels more real than asphalt. It feels more adventurous.
When we take our deep breath and say okay to calling, then the pillar of cloud that is God sets out, and we follow, and we feel His hand on our shoulder behind us, like a guide and a gentle push all at once, and we move forward.
The momentum is such a release and such a relief after the standstill that was before the plunge.
Sometimes the plunge, by the way, just looks like taking the first step. IT feels like a lot, and it feels like nothing, but it starts you. It moves you forward.
Just beginning on a path generates momentum. An object in motion will tend to stay in motion. Even if the steps feel small, if they feel like nothing at all, simply refusing to say no to calling, our obstinate, daily yes to this Quest of ours will carry us through to completion of the task God has given us.
For yes, He has given us this specific task.
We don't often think about that -- at least, I don't.
I don't wake up every morning and think about how God made me to be a singer and a writer and an academic and all the other things He wired into me. I don't think about how this is the unique work He's given me to do.
I think something adjacent, but not specifically that.
But Paul tells us that God has prepared good things in advance for us to do.
That's what calling is.
It's the good things God has prepared in advance for us to do.
And we have a hopeful vision -- we see what these things might be. What God might have made us to be, if we only dared believe it.
Beloved, believe it.
It is true.
We are exactly that kind of person because God has made it so by the Resurrection of His Son; amen and amen.
And He gives us a vision and says Come with Me -- and He sets us on our doorstep, and we are given a choice: walk forward or turn around and remain inside your comfortable hobbit-hole.
And we, the longing ones, the believers, the faithful, the hopeful, the dreamers -- we the people have said yes.
Because to say yes to Jesus when we become believers is to say yes to calling. To say yes to Jesus each day is to say yes to what He has called us into.
So we go forward.
The path is ours. It does not look like everyone else's. They are our own, unique good-things-prepared-in-advance. The path has its own bends and curves.
But at each bend, each turn and turve, each stumble and crossroads, the cloud goes before you, and the presence of God behind you, holding your hand under the starlight and the mist.
We are on the path.
This is an Adventure.
Just writing that makes me so ridiculously excited. Look at the privilege. Look at the joy. Look at what we have been called into -- what a gift.
The path is long and hard, but it is a journeying with Jesus -- and that, friends is why it is a spiritual experience.
Because calling is a matter of the heart and the mind and the soul -- all intangible things -- and the way we say yes to Jesus with all of them.
This is our Camino. We are pilgrims, we are seekers, we are looking for God in every blade of grass, every crevice between the paving-stones, every pebble in the way. We are looking to see God in the sunshine and the rain and the mist before our eyes and the dirt under our fingernails.
And we shall see Him.
This is our Camino. This is our life-pilgrimage.
Welcome to the journey.