As much as calling sustains us, keeps us well, helps to make us whole -- heck, I've written volumes about how singing has made me whole again, has made me feel like myself again --
As much as this is true, we have a responsibility to it.
And the responsibility is this:
We must keep the calling nourished, feed it like we would nourish a friend with our warmth and hospitality and love.
We must keep it sharp, the way we sharpen a weapon.
For calling is both gentle and it is warlike.
My singing is a warrior maiden. It is a prophetess.
Calling is not self-perpetuating. It is given to us, yes -- it is not something we earn. It is a gift to rejoice in.
But once we receive it -- once we have embraced it with open arms, walking and leaping and praising God -- we must feed it the way we would feed our beloved puppy, a kitten. This is a bad analogy, because calling is not a pet, but you get my drift.
If we don't feed it, it goes away.
I think of the people who are given a gift and don't ever use it. Never exercise it. We all know what happens to that gift: it shrivels up and dies.
I think of the parable of the talents that Jesus tells. I don't really know how I feel about the usual interpretations of this parable, but it cannot be ignored, the fact that what God gives us is not meant to stew in the background of our lives, of our hearts. We are not meant to just sit on it.
If we do, it dies, and we do, too, in a way.
We tend to forget that calling isn't for us, really. It's wired into us in such a way that if we don't use it, something in us becomes restless and more than a little crazy. That's because it's an integral part of who we're made to be. But it isn't for us.
It's for God.
It's for the promulgation of gospel purpose and the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The idea is that when we use the calling we are given, everyone around us will be able to see the light shining through us and know that it is the divine light of God.
And I know this to be true.
I know this to be true because I have seen it. I know this to be true because many people have been kind to me and told me that there is something special that comes out of me when I sing.
That's because we are using the calling that we have been given.
I've written here before that when I started singing in earnest again, my mom told me I seemed better. That was what God used to pull me out of depression: the use of my voice. That's because I am feeding the calling God put within me. I am no longer starving it. It's like my voice was hangry because I wasn't using it, and because of that, she took me down with her, begging to be used.
It is our responsibility to use what we are given. To feed this beautiful thing, the way we would nourish ourselves, our bodies. The way we want to welcome our friends into our homes with open arms and good food.
We are responsible for whetting it with a stone, preparing it for war.
For this is a battle we are in, friends.
I've written before during this series about my conviction that my enemy is trying to take me down and rip me apart and feed upon my soul like a dementor. He does this, as I have said, because he knows what we will be, and what we will do to him, if we are fully ourselves in Christ, doing what Jesus has given us to do.
And so in this regard, calling is a weapon. When I come home at the end of my workday and do NOT want to sing, the best response for it is to sing. I instantly feel better. My voice finds its groove, and something about the long, sustained exhalation that is singing makes my body relax and pumps a little bit of sunset-gold joy into my veins.
And I become more myself than I was before, with every phrase.
The enemy retreats because he is afraid of me.
We are fearful with the weapon of calling in our hands. And so it is our responsibility to keep it sharp. To use it.
If faith is a shield, and the Spirit of God is a sword in our hands, then calling is the knife at our sides that we yank from its sheath. It is the bow and arrow to keep the enemy away. because I can promise you that when I go to practice, that when I have written, I feel his resistance a little less.
God, help us.