Four things are revealed from a person’s calling: their motivation throughout the rest of their life, the nature of their identity, the structure and DnA of their ministry, the aspects of God which are being highlighted through their life. These four, unlock ways of interpreting the writings of scriptures, as well.
When we look at Isaiah, for instance, we see his initial calling was a vision of the throne room. Throughout his ministry and writings, we see this courtliness. We see that everything is contextualized by his initial vision.
He places all his particular prophecies in the light of this initial vision and calling. He has seen Jesus on the throne, and everything continually gets contextualized by this vision.
He is also motivated repeatedly by this initial vision, and offers some of the most poignant passages on the Messiah found anywhere in scripture. His particular prophetic messages into history are continually informed by His Vision of Messiah on His Throne.
Here is a pattern. If we want to know the character and trajectory of a person’s ministry and life, look at their initial calling. Look at Paul, who is blinded on the road. Here is the conversion of an evangelistic teacher. He is literally blinded and has a direct visitation of Jesus who talks to him clearly. The rest of his ministry is characterized by this initial encounter and calling. And it is his motivation throughout, and the aspect of God highlighted is the identity of Jesus throughout Paul’s life.
Each of the disciples also had unique callings which led them into, and characterized the trajectory of their ministries.
We see this pattern over and over in scripture. Noah is a builder. David a shepherd. These men’s identity is revealed in their initial encounter with God. Jeremiah is unique in that he is actually called in the womb-meaning his entire life is a prophecy and teaching; but when God reveals this to him, he ask him what he sees. Jeremiah sees a rod of an almond tree then a tipped pot. Even these two images reveal all God would highlight through Jeremiah’s prophetic career. Jeremiah would be a prophet to the nations and reveal that God is Lord over all nations and uses them according to His Plans.
We are better able to interpret Jeremiah’s writings, if we understand his initial calling. His calling again also emphasized identity itself. God knew Him, therefore He called Him! With both Jeremiah and Paul we see an emphasis on their biographies as part of God’s message. Both also knew intense fellowship with God’s suffering. It is interesting to consider the correlation between the emphasis on identity and suffering.
If you are going to emphasize identity, and that identity is placed “in Christ”, then there is going to be great suffering reflected, because Jesus is the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, Jesus is the one by whose stripes we are healed. So those emphasizing identity in Christ, will certainly suffer. And when our suffering is offered to Him, it will reflect and commune with the suffering of Jesus. If God is emphasizing identity through you, and you are linked to Jesus Identity, you are going to suffer as a sign of His Suffering! That will become part of your spirituality. You see this in Jeremiah and Paul clearly!
For in Christ you see these two highlighted most acutely. Who He was meant He would suffer greatly. A man greatly acquainted with all our griefs. A man of sorrows, as Isaiah saw.
With Isaiah it is interesting that from the throne room, he is also able to see Immanuel coming, and offer us such sharp windows into the identity of Jesus. His initial calling was a vision of Jesus on the throne; from here he could see Jesus interaction with history. And all his subsequent prophecies were contextualized from that vision of who Jesus was and is.
I think this applies also to us. What was your initial calling—that will be your motivation throughout, that will reveal the nature of your true identity, that will offer the architecture of your ministry, that will tell you what part of God is being emphasized through your life!
Knowing and recalling our initial callings, keeps us motivated, on our particular path, and aware of the parts of God He has revealed to and then through us! And, it allows us to structure our lives accordingly.
My initial calling was a vision of God’s Arm over a street corner. He spoke of a great outpouring coming as in the days of Noah, in which people would be forced to cling to Him, and be quickly burnt into place. That a great shaking was coming, tumult, that we would need to fully house ourselves in Him during. That I was called to touch those special ones that few could reach. That authenticity and being myself, staying in Him would be my way. That some would not understand, but it was His method of bringing Himself into spaces hard to reach or unique. There were many other aspects to my initial vision, but it has carried me for many years.
It is good to recall this vision when times seem dry or rootless. Since my initial vision, i have seen many of the nuances of what He initially revealed. Some of the cultural spaces I am allowed into, still astound me. Some of the people who would never talk to believers, open up to me, and through me to Him. Many people who hate Christianity will talk to me openly about Jesus. There are many times I recall my initial vision, and my faith gets renewed and rekindled.
His pleasure when I am just being myself, has always been weird to me. Then I remember that He wanted to celebrate Himself through my own identity, and it is contextualized again. I go back to enjoying myself as a ministry. I bring an authentic tone into the room, and feel blessed again, and ok with celebrating how I am made.
Other aspects continue to come true also about my initial calling. And I am always thankful at how true He has been to His Words over me, and that initial outstretched arm.
It is good to return home often in turbulent times to our initial callings. And to see people’s initial calling, allows us to better understand them and the aspects of God they are meant to reveal! What was your initial calling? Keep that active and spiritually watered, and that seed will continue to bloom into the full nuances of the garden you are in Him!
I often ask people to write their initial calling out, and put it on their wall, or wherever you look most often. This keeps His initial promises before our eyes, so when things get dim, we have this reminder of our spiritual DnA in Him. And sharing these calling stories, become a way of sharing unique aspects of Him. The poetry He is trying to pronounce through our lives. It also answers the four questions: what is your motivation, what is your identity, what is the structure of your life, and which aspects about God do you reveal most. These four, answer the basic human needs of identity, purpose, motivation and mission in this life.