Caravan Sonnet: when the need is not the calling

7/13/15

when the need is not the calling


If you have been around this blog for any length of time in the past year then today's blog post might seem "completely out of the blue", but in all actuality it has been a steadily growing decision as the Lord has been working on my heart and leading me in new areas that He is calling me to. I hope that as you read this post you will understand that while I have not chosen to share on the blog that I have been thinking and praying about this for some time this is a decision that has not been made lightly or without great prayer and thought put into it. 

Recently I have been learning a very important lesson about times "when the need is not the calling". I first read this statement (almost two decades ago) in Oswald Chambers (March 5th) devotional, "My Utmost for His Highest" when he says, "the need is not the same as the call". Later as a college student I was reminded of this concept in Robin Jones Gunn's "Christy and Todd: the college years" book 1. It has stayed with me for a long time and this is the second time in life that I have experienced this reality.
As I have been thinking through this and praying what this means for my life personally I am struck by the simple reality that there are so many needs that exist out in the world for us as Christians to potentially meet. From poverty to adoption to race issues to sex trafficking to those without homes to children without enough food to eat to genocide to economical issues to political ones there are thousands of needs that we encounter in our world each and every day. The reality is that we cannot possibly meet each of those needs that we see or we hear about and I don't believe that we are necessarily called to either. I see so many Christians that jump from one "latest need" to another and in the process often do a poor job of meeting the need along with (often times) getting burned out. I read a quote in May that I shared on instagram that sums up this thought perfectly: "Too many Christians are too involved in 'many things', when the secret of progress is to concentrate on 'one thing'." (BEC) I think the thing that is our "one thing" is concentrating on Jesus Christ and prayerfully following where He leads us, while understanding that the need is not always the call. 
The reality is that there are many needs that we may see that are not "our calling". Our time on earth is incredibly valuable, because it is God's time that He has given us here to glorify Him. I truly believe that just like we are to be good stewards of our finances, we are also to be good stewards of our time. This can be difficult as we see needs around us to truly ask the Lord where He wants us to best use our time. 
Shortly after I was healed from Endometriosis  I moved to Washington DC, participated in a Summer Intensive study program at American University Law School on the subject of "Women and International Human Rights", and shortly thereafter accepted a "Match Grant" job working with trafficking victims, asylees, and refugee torture victims in their first 180 days in the United States.(If you saw the movie, "The Good Lie" with Reese Witherspoon you have a good picture of my job.) The job itself was hard. It was incredibly painful to interact with people who had experienced such horrors of life. It was heart-breaking, it was heart-wrenching, and it was life-changing. I had known of the horrors that existed, but all of a sudden it was before me face-to-face. It was in the broken spirits of some and in the haunting eyes of those who had left family members behind in countries far far away. As each day passed and I interacted with my clients, worked to get them jobs, and learned their stories my heart would break a little bit more. About six months into the job after a particularly difficult story and situation with one of my clients, I met with one of my professors from American for lunch, explained some things that I was experiencing and hoped for sound encouragement. She looked at me with compassion and said to me, "Rebecca, the need is not always the call". Although not a Christian, her words echoed what I had read so many years prior to that conversation. 

As I drove back to work from the meeting I had a feeling that the Lord was starting to move me in a different direction. As the months continued I continued to feel this even though I worked hard at my job, worked hard to connect with my clients despite the pain, and found joy and laughter with colleagues whom I admired as they day in and day out tirelessly championed those who were hurting. After months of prayer, months of gaining Godly wisdom and months of asking the Lord for clear direction, I was offered a teaching job that I accepted, knowing that the Lord had orchestrated all of the details. As I left my job as a Match Grant Coordinator and returned to teaching I found the truth of the saying, "the need is not always the call". In my teaching job I thrived as I worked with teenagers and although there was heartbreak and difficulties I could clearly see the Lord gifting me, calling me, and equipping me in this vocation. If I am honest, it was something I never encountered in my other position. While I don't think that the time that I spent that year was a waste at all and I do believe the Lord uses everything in our lives, it was painfully obvious that I had learned an important lesson: the need is not always the calling. Those 11 months have shaped my view on a number of different subjects not only personally, but politically and professionally as well and I have treasured the lessons I learned and have not forgotten them all of these years later. Making the decision to leave was difficult (especially because I felt in many ways the time was short) but it was still the right decision. 
Almost nine years later and the Lord has continuously brought that experience to mind again and again. After lots of time praying and seeking the Lord, months of speaking with Godly mentors in my life, and spending time alone with the Lord I have decided to close down SEEN Gathering. Ironically, much like the Match Grant job so many years ago, SEEN Gathering was started and is ending after 11 short months. I would like to say that I still firmly believe in what I wrote when I shared the "kick off" of SEEN Gathering last August and I do strongly and sadly see that this is an area that the American Church needs to address

At the same time though, I do not believe that this is my particular calling and the Lord is leading me in a different direction. There are many reasons for this. First, the time commitment to keep up with SEEN Gathering was simply too much at this particular time in my life with my health. I received close to 300-400 emails every single day from people all over the United States who were struggling with Chronic Illness and are struggling not only physically but emotionally. I tried as best as I could to answer emails and to engage others to participate in the ministry but the doors seemed to keep closing. Due to this time commitment there became little time left to continue to engage with other "lymies" who were contacting me through my personal blog, which the Lord has laid on my heart. Second, there were thousands of Crate 526 boxes that were mailed out over the past year. (A Crate 526 box was a box of encouragement for those who were struggling.) At first this was to be done by a couple of people (other than myself) but unfortunately I had many people who kept stepping up and then stepping down from this role which created extra stress and time constraints on myself as I ended up collecting all of the donations, cards, and sending everything out. Unfortunately this left little time for me to participate at a level that I feel called to with Adopt-a-Platoon, which is an area where my heart is. Third, I had a lovely group of lady bloggers who were contributing and for all valid reasons many of them had to take steps back which meant that I was writing two blogs which I didn't do well at all. Fourth, and the most important reason, I realized with clarity that just because there is a need it doesn't mean that it is your specific calling. I see, like I did with the Match Grant job so many years ago, the horrific reality that our country has hundreds of thousands of people struggling with Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain. My heart literally breaks for each person that I have encountered but I have realized that focusing in on something that is not my calling is not using this time that God has given me best. There are specific areas that are my hearts passion and where He is calling. Some of these y'all know (with writing and creating and working with high school students) and some of these are private and some new things I will be sharing in the weeks and months to come.
As I step forward, I know that I am learning in even greater ways the depths of His love, His tender mercy, and His grace to not only meet my needs but those that I have witnessed and seen through SEEN Gathering. I know that SEEN Gathering was never about one person or me and it was always about Jesus and He will continue to meet the needs of those who are hurting and struggling with these areas. What an amazing thing it is to follow after Him- where we can be small instruments of His grace and love! Truly amazing!
Sweet friends, maybe you are struggling and praying through a similar season of "when the need is not the calling". If you are I just want to say that I am praying for you. Praying that you will find grace to meet these difficult decisions and peace to walk in freedom of where God is calling you! Sending love and prayers friends!

17 comments:

  1. I love My Utmost for His Highest! And I totally get what you're saying here- Kevin DeYoung talked about this in his book "Crazy Busy" and I like how he put it- that as Christians we are supposed to care about all these issues, but we are not called to be involved in all the related ministries. That's a helpful reminder for someone like me who wants to jump in and help with everything! I like how you emphasized the same idea in the post- so many Christians need to hear this! Thanks for sharing that truth!

    Also, I'm an AU grad, so it was awesome to read about how you did a program at WCL!

    This Side of Paradise

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    1. Katie! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave such a thoughtful comment! I haven't read Kevin DeYoung's book but will have to check it out! I definitely can relate to your heart for wanting to jump in and help with everything! Often times that is how I am!! How neat that you are also an AU grad! I LOVED my time at WCL and the program that I did! It was an amazing experience!! :) Thank you again so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a sweet comment! I am excited to connect with you and to be your newest follower via bloglovin!! :)
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  2. I think this is a really important realization for us to come to. There are infinite needs--but there are usually limited realms or areas where we are actually called to serve--and we can serve in those realms best when we aren't too distracted by other [good] things that time can be invested in.

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    1. I definitely agree with you Rachel! It is a lesson that extends to so many different parts of our lives! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! I hope that you have a wonderful week!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  3. You are absolutely right! It was worded so beautifully. God, is a wonderful God and his mercy does endure forever.

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    1. Aww thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement!! I so appreciate you taking the time to read and to leave such a thoughtful comment! :) I hope that you have a wonderful Monday and a wonderful week!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you directly back but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger". I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  4. This is so beautifully written, and I can absolutely relate! Thank you for sharing your heart sweet friend:)

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    1. Hi sweet Katie! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment with such sweet encouragement! I hope that you have a wonderful Monday and a wonderful week! Are you still on summer break? :) Saw your post about your upcoming trip to Sweden and can't wait to see your adventures over there!
      :) Blessings, Rebecca

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  5. This post is so liberating! I have been wrestling with this topic for a while and haven't landed anywhere until today....the need is not always the calling. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Becky, aww thank you so much for sharing!! I am so glad that this encouraged you today!! Praying that you feel free to continue to chase after the dreams and places the Lord is calling you to!!! I hope that you have a wonderful week!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would love to have emailed you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger". I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  6. Great post, I agree wholeheartedly with "too many christians are involved in too many things"- i think it is easy to get too wrapped up in programs and ministries and miss the basics...Jesus and simply following him.

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    1. Melissa- Oh my goodness YES. I think that there are so many wonderful programs and ministries out there that sometimes it does seem so easy to miss the basics. What a wonderful and challenging point for today! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment! I hope that you have a wonderful day today!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  7. This post is so beautiful. I can absolutely relate. I feel bad for not being able to do everything for everyone, like it makes me not a good enough Christian.

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    1. Hi sweet lady! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and leaving a comment on my blog post, especially this one where I am sharing my heart. I think that many many Christians struggle with this- the idea that we are not good enough if we are not doing "everything" or even something "big" (as one of my friends mentioned). I love how the Lord reminds us that we are to be like little children coming to Him. I am learning again how little children are free to be themselves without all of these expectations and that truly frees us to be where the Lord is calling us to be! You have so much to offer and are making a difference for Jesus!! and I am so glad that we have connected in bloggy world! Sending love and hugs across the internet!! :)
      Rebecca :)

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  8. This is such a good post! So often I feel like there's so much bad in the world that I don't even know where to start or in darker times even feel like it's not worth starting. It's good to remember that we aren't called to every need. But to also remember that there are one or a few we are called to and it's our duty to work at those.

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    1. I love your words here Kaylee! It is so true that often times it can be overwhelming to know where to start especially in darker times. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment on this post of mine as I shared my heart! Your words were truly an encouragement to me!! :) I hope that you have a wonderful Thursday!!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  9. I absolutely loved reading this. It spoke to me in a place that maybe, I have been avoiding. I was moved to tears, so thank you for sharing. Thank you for sharing it in its entirety. Your story and your journey, have helped me...they are not in vain. You are right! Sometimes I want to meet every need that I see, but I have to be very conscious that those needs do not cause me to ignore or bypass the calling that God has given me. While I thought about this same thing this morning and the past two weeks...your post was confirmation. God bless you in all you do and thank you again.

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