I started a post with this title a couple of months ago, before I had the idea for this series. It started with the sentence "I am running from my creativity." Because I was.
And that leads me to think about the times we are trying to avoid calling.
Calling is frightening.
I think back again to my man Abraham: Leave your people and your father's house and go to the land that I will show you.
I imagine that at the same time vision rose in his heart like dawn, fear sprouted up next to it like a shadow, like a weed.
That's often how it happens. We get a hopeful vision growing in golden light -- and as soon as it begins to put down its fragile roots, the thorns of fright and trepidation seize us. Choke us out. Our larynges rise in our respective throats.
(Sidebar: the plural of larynx is larynges and I LOVE that. Carry on.)
What happens is that the enemy senses the lifting of our heads, can see the way the Divine reaches for our hands, cups them around the air, and places something into them.
He can't see what it is -- maybe he gets a flash, a glimpse, the way you would see light reflecting off an emerald.
But it's enough to make him afraid, so he swoops in and breathes fear into us. Fear and can't.
Can't because we're not good enough. Can't because good things never happen to us. Can't because God isn't really as good as we want to believe He is -- we are sure of it.
Instead of the warmth of hope, we go cold all over.
And suddenly the vision we were given and pressed to our hearts with gladness -- we hold it out at arm's length in horror. It is too much, it is too good, and we are not nearly enough for it.
We become Moses, who received calling from the Lord in the burning bush and tried to turn away from it. He told God that he had a stutter, that he wasn't fit to lead. We come up with all the reasons we cannot.
When I thought I didn't want to go to music school, it was because I felt that God had asked me to put it down. And I still believe that. I believe He was looking for obedience, like Abraham with the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah. That's another post, though.
But after a bit I felt the stirrings of music again in my heart. Like a treble staff wrought of gold, rustling around in my body like autumn leaves being stirred up by wind.
The strains of Baroque music were shaking to get out of me, and I tried my best to ignore them.
I was sure I wasn't going that way. At that point, it seemed impossible for me to follow the long-held dream. It also felt wrong -- I had been asked to put it down; I had just gotten used to the idea.
So I ignored it when I wanted to sing, at least most of the time. And when I did sing, and the longing rose up in me to pursue singing and music-making, I squashed those feelings, the way you step on a young, tender flower.
But we forget the flower has roots, and the roots reached down around my heart and pulled -- hard.
We try to run from calling when we feel like it can't possibly be true, or can't possibly be for us -- whether that is because we are not right or because it's too right or because we are afraid God isn't good.
The last one is the one I struggle with the most. I fear He will take calling away from me.
But what I'm learning is that in this fear, I am nothing short of wrong.
Last night my mom quoted a favorite verse to me: If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to His?
Amen and amen, y'all.
We are afraid God is too good to be true. He's better than even that -- but He's the truest thing there is. He IS Truth.
We forget that calling comes from Him. We forget that He is the Giver. We are told that He will take it away because it fills us up with joy.
But if we try to run away from calling (which is exactly what our enemy wants from us), our joy will be zapped faster than you can even say the word zapped. I know. I have tried to do it.
The enemy tries to steal calling from us because we are dangerous with it in hand. It's a weapon against the shadow. It's the weed-killer. It's a sword.
What if we stopped running away from calling and stood our ground and wielded a sword and looked into the sunrise? We've been running west, away toward the gray world, when all about is is bursting into dawn. We are determined to dwell in shadow because we are afraid.
What if we turned around and faced the light?
I think then we would discover that the God we have feared, the god who is really more like Zeus, capricious and petty -- we would learn that Jehovah God is a different kind of being altogether. He's unlike everything we've ever known, and at the same time, He is everything familiar to us. He feels like home.
He is kind to us.
And He has purpose for us, if we will only pay attention. No, not if we will pay attention -- if we will stop running from it.
Maybe what we're afraid of is responsibility, but I think what we're really afraid of is ourselves.
What if we are everything He's made us to be? What if the truth about ourselves is not what we've always believed -- that we are not enough, that we are too much, all the shame and dirt? What if the truth about ourselves is that we are brave and whole and that Jesus has given us a thing to do that fills our heart with joy because we were made for this?
It's a terrifying prospect and I don't think I fully know why. But maybe the reason it freaks us out so deeply is because the enemy has made it so. He doesn't want us to have abundant life, so he makes us afraid of it.
The time has come for us to stop on a dime and spit in his face.
And then wheel about and run the other way. Toward the dawn. Toward our Jesus. Toward what He has given us to do.
Sometimes I feel like I'm running suicides, friends: like I run one way, then another, then back the first way, to and fro, back and forth, as I struggle with fear and calling and destiny and shame and hope.
This is normal. It's part of being human.
But what can help us in the struggle is knowing and believing this one simple fact: the dawn always wins. It never fails to suss out and destroy every shadow. Nothing is hidden from its heat, says Psalm 19.
Victory is guaranteed.
We have been given a thing to do. We have been given a vision.
I can promise you that if you run from it, it will chase you so hard. It will not give up. It will hound you until the end of your days -- ask me how I know. It will run after you like a lover until you stop and allow it to crash into you and knit back into its place in your soul. Again, ask me how I know.
It is persistent, because Jesus is persistent. He will not, will not, will not allow us to run back to the shadow.
You aren't going that way.
We can run backward as much as we want, but we are made for light, and it inexorably pulls on us. It's like running against a wall, against quicksand, until we whirl around, and calling, chasing after us, falls hard against us, and we start walking wearily toward the sunrise.
The dawn energizes us. We step lighter. Our footing is surer. Joy rises, and our throats relax, and we become ourselves again.
We are going home. We relax. The sadness subsides.
Again I say to you: ask me how I know.
The sunrise is beautiful in my town today. It fills me up with hope.
My despair is going out like a tide, and in its place, joy flows in.
As Gandalf says: hope is kindled.
I am not running anymore, unless it is toward the dawn.
Because God is good to me.