Calling is, all at once, both the safest place to be and the most dangerous.
Let me say what I mean.
When you are in the will of God for your life, there is no greater delight. There is nothing better. There is nothing sweeter than intimacy with the Creator and walking in step with Him. This I know to be true.
When we are called, and then we answer the call? Oh, my friends, what relief. What release. What utter joy.
Calling is hard, but there is nothing more joyful than answering it.
But now we turn to the first part of that sentence:
Calling is hard.
Boy howdy, is it ever.
What a joke to say otherwise.
I tell everyone I know that besides following Jesus, being an opera singer is the hardest thing I've ever done and also, utterly rightly, the best thing I've ever done.
Calling is a tough thing. I've written at length during this series about how following it takes courage, about how it brings about heartbreak, about the path to/along it and its hardships that sometimes make you want to die. All these things are true.
But I am here today to say that it is also dangerous.
To follow calling is to step out from the warmth and safety of your home into the exposure of the cold and the wildness.
To follow calling is to be different. I cannot fathom the number of people who do not follow calling, who deny it, who waste away inside -- and who then, in their infinite wisdom, shoot flaming arrows at those who listen to the voice of God and obey Him.
I cannot begin to imagine the number of those who are out to get me when I am the fullest version of myself.
We are humans, and we are small and petty, and we know it. We know our little lives are exactly that -- little. But we cannot bear it when someone else's life acquires more depth. We cannot stand it when we see someone living into who she is made to be in Jesus.
But more than this.
When we respond to calling, our enemy sits up. He takes notice.
He smells something in the air. The wind shifts directions.
I picture his eyes narrowing. He licks his finger, sticks it into the air, checks to se which way the wind is blowing -- and his eyes narrow even more.
And he knows.
Something is different in the tilt of the whirligig world when we step into calling and obedience to God.
Something shifts in the heavenward direction, which means that the air takes on the smell of milk and honey and gold and dandelions.
Which means that the enemy is in danger.
He is anything but unprepared. And so he sets off, or he sends his minions to do his bidding -- the bidding to destroy us.
Yes, beloved, you and I, as believers who are following the calling of God in our own individual ways -- we are under attack.
I am under attack every time I go to sing, by an enemy who wants to tramp me down the way I was this past summer. He whispers in my ear that I don't have to sing today.
Every time I come to put my fingers on this keyboard I am overcome by I don't want to.
Is it any wonder that it's hard to start new things? Our enemy is doing everything in his power to prevent it.
I think back to this summer when I went through my period of non-singing and despair. It was so misty and more than a little dark. I look back and remember blackness and thick fog and being sleepy-tired all the time.
I look back and I think: The enemy must be terrified of me to try so hard to stamp out my flame.
And that, of course, leads me to believe that in Christ, I must be pretty damn effective. I must be terrifying.
The thought fills me up with glee. I am a Shieldmaiden, after all.
I am reminded of what Mr. Beaver says to the children of Aslan:
"Safe? 'Course He isn't safe! But He's good. He's the King, I tell you."
It's one of Lewis' most beautiful lines, and it's one of the truest things I ever read about God.
Jesus never ever no never promised us that we would be safe and that all things would be hunky dory forever and ever amen. No; my Jesus promised me that in this world I would have trouble --
But. Take. Heart.
For I have overcome the world.
We are never in our lives going to have it easy. Less so if we are believers, and still less if we are believers who are following the voice of God whithersoever it may lead us. Who are following His voice along the golden wire in our spines that is calling.
The enemy will attack us, the world will try to bring us down, and most of the time, nobody will understand -- or at least it will feel that way.
We are not safe, not in the way we wish we were safe.
But do we really wish that?
I think not.
I think in our hearts we are longing for adventure, and we'd rather have that than second breakfast any day.
(In case you're new here, welcome: that's what I write about all the time.)
I think that we will gladly eschew safety if we can stand on the precipice and feel the wind in our hair and on our faces and taste the milk and honey on the air.
I think (and I have seen it) that we are most fully fulfilled when we're living out dangerous calling.
You see, it may not be materially safe, but our souls are the safest they have ever been -- and since that's the only thing that lasts, isn't that the thing that really matters?
My whole life, or my whole conscious life, I've wanted an adventure. And -- spoiler alert, guys! -- I have one! I am so utterly, profoundly grateful, and more than a little giddy about it.
And sometimes it has profoundly SUCKED.
I would not say that this has been the safe route or the easy one. My emotions have been put through the wringer, and I have been exposed to the elements of shame and the beatdown of the enemy on more than one occasion.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Because I would gladly eschew my safety to taste adventure on my tongue.
Safe? Of course it isn't safe! Of course Jesus isn't safe, the One Who offers up this life to us.
But He is good, and because He is, so is the adventure-life.
It's the good life. It's shalom.
So let us walk into it, heads held high, arrows at the read, arms spread wide.
Being a singer is the hardest thing I've ever done and also the best thing I've ever done.
The things worth doing often are.