When I was planning this series, I wrote down titles for things to jog my memory. For this one, I really did just write "counterpoint," and reading it puts me in mind of a couple of things: first, my undergrad music theory classes; second, how I really need to study for my diagnostic exams the first week in January.
To be honest, it reminds me of a harpsichord. I love harpsichords, but I did not enjoy studying counterpoint (which I abbreviate as CPT in all my notes) in class.
But then I scrolled up a little bit in my outline, to see my initial brainstorming notes, and I see the sentence that reminds me that calling isn't just one thing. Everything in life combines and weaves in and out of one another to create calling.
It's a lot of different lines of music, as a four-part chorale, combining to create one texture that is multidimensional.
Imagine if calling was only ever just career (I hate that word, but it's the only one that adequately conveys the idea I'm trying to get across). Imagine if it was only ever just this one thing. That's like only ever hearing the soprano line in a chorus. It's pretty, and it's a melody (and I'm biased toward it, as a soprano myself), but imagine it with all the colors: it's so much more interesting.
It creates a better story.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, and two of my favorites are from Alastair Stephens' brainchild Point North Media. These two podcasts are seminars on, respectively, Harry Potter and Tolkien's Middle-earth. He just wrapped up his lectures on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (is this revealing how nerdy I am yet?), and he spent a lot of the last few sessions pointing to the brilliant way JK Rowling wraps up all her subplots, tying them up into a neat little bow. And the point of this long comparison is to say this: imagine how much less interesting, less compelling that story would be if the subplots did not exist.
Calling is everything that has been placed into your life, rolled into one. But it isn't always tied up with a neat little bow.
It's all those things. It's not just vocation, the way your voice chooses to display itself in the world. It's that plus relationships with family and friends. I marvel at the way God carries theme throughout my life. I tend to first hear the themes in my time with Jesus and the slow out-spinning of my relationship with Him. The themes then begin to bleed like ink, radiate like light into all the corners of my life, dusting away the cobwebs and causing me to turn my head slowly toward the Sunshine (could have made a bad Christian pun there: Sonshine. I digress).
Once I've heard the theme -- as if it were a sonata or a symphony -- in my time with Jesus, as revealed in His Word and my communion with the Spirit of God, then I start to notice it everywhere. I start to see it in the way I relate to others, in my behavior. Then it seeps into vocation: singing, usually, and then writing.
A sidebar: I don't think it's a coincidence that singing has been the hardest thing for me to surrender up to God, historically -- it's not a coincidence that this is true and that singing is also the calling of my life.
And then the theme starts to roll over me like tidal waves, rolling back upon itself and coming back again, reiterating itself in subtly different shades, like a theme and variations. You can recognize the theme, but you also know that it is somehow different from before.
Themes spin themselves out like sheet music written in golden wire, roll themselves out as from a player piano in an Old West saloon. They seep into all corners of my life: from my time with Jesus to my relationships with those around me, my interactions with the world -- and thence into singing, writing, my day jobs, my schoolwork, and even my daily workouts, until the entirety of my life smells like those things.
They've been stained pink as if with punch or wine.
All this is to say that calling is not just one thing. It is always ever the combination of everything in our lives, and everything we touch -- and more, because of course it is more than the sum of its parts.
Maybe the real calling here is to the shalom of God. To His wholeness. To be a whole person in His peace.
To be wholly, fully who He has made us to be, not just vocationally, but in all our lives. To let that wholeness bleed into everything and make it smell like the new wine of the blood of the covenant.
We can see the sunrise tinging it all pink.
Maybe the real calling is into who we are in Jesus -- all of it, whether we sing or write or talk to a friend or sleep or eat our lunch or hug our moms or hold a friend's hand. Maybe the real calling is into that freedom and peace and wholeness.
All the different parts of our life combine in counterpoint and in the depth of Christ to create some kind of wholeness, some kind of shalom that talks to those around us and tells us: She has been with Jesus.
This counterpoint, this symphony, this piece of art that God is creating with our lives (for God is the Creator; let us not forget it) -- that is our testimony. It's what colors me with the neon yellow of a highlighter so that I pop a little bit to the unbelievers around me -- through no work or ability of my own, but through what Christ is doing in me and through me.
What He is doing in me, to create the music, and what He is doing through me, with what the music of my life says to other people about its Composer (see what I'm doing with all my music metaphors here?).
Maybe calling is to allow ourselves to be made whole. To be made music out of.
Maybe calling is just allowing what God has done in us to come out.