If someone were to asked you what was your calling in life, would you be able to answer that question? Would you even know what the person was talking about? Answering the question of what is your calling in life is a pretty big deal. Nothing to take lightly. So what is a Calling?
According to the dictionary, a Calling is a vocation, profession, or trade; a call or summons; a strong impulse or inclination. A pretty simple definition, but a life changing decision we all make at some point in our lives.
As a Christian, I believe God has called each of us to live a life of serving Him and others. Of course that is going to look different for each of us. Some will be called into full-time ministry. Others will be called to serve in their given profession. I believe God has a specific role for each of us that will use our unique gifts, talents, experiences and connections.
As most of you know, I am a former long-distance runner. I ran cross country in high school, a little running in college, but had not run in years when I felt God calling me to start running again in 2003. Oh, did I mention that God shared that calling with me while I was having open-heart surgery to remove a nasty tumor from my chest? It would have been very easy for me to dismiss this calling as way too much anesthesia. I mean really, who has a vision of running marathons while having life-threatening surgery? But several days after surgery, I still felt that calling on my life. I could not escape it. So five months after major surgery, I went on my first run in years. Answering that call changed my life in so many ways. Let me share just a few.
When I heard God calling me to start running marathons, I also heard him share that I was not going to be running just to run. No, I would be running to share God’s story in my life. How He was walking me through this crazy beautiful journey. Of course back in 2004 when I started running again, I had no clue this health journey would last this long. I am thankful for that. As I started running marathons, I felt God calling me to run for those who could not run themselves. My wife Laura started making shirts with the names of people I was running for. It became a topic of discussion at my races. People asked me questions about the shirts and why I was running. During those discussions, I was able to share not only about the names on the shirts, but I was able to share my faith.
During my running career, I was diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson’s. All the sudden, I was the cancer survivor and Parkinson’s patient running marathons. Then God woke me up on New Year’s Day in 2008 and called me to run a 1,000 miles in one year. Crazy I know. But with that calling came request for interviews and speaking engagements. More opportunities to share my faith with a larger audience. That was an amazing season of life.
The call to running saved my life. Really OC? How could running save your life? I am glad you asked. When my body started shutting down in March 2009, the prognosis was not great. Some medical staff were not sure if I would make it through the night. But of course I did. Then I made it through the month. Then I made it through the year. And ten years later I am still here. Almost all of my medical team shared I survived because I was in such great physical shape from running. That running had also made me mentally tough.
I often think back to 2003, when I felt God calling me to run marathons. What if I would have decided to ignore that calling? How different would my life be today? Even though I am no longer able to physically run, I still love running. I love talking about it, reading books on running, talking with other runners and coaching runners. Ten years after having to give up running, I still have the mentality of a runner. I believe my faith and my running mentality have kept me alive and thriving.
So how can you find your calling in life? Here are a few ways I found helpful.
Prayer. Being in prayer helps us discern God’s calling on our lives. If you are confused about the calling on your life, spend more time in prayer. God will make things clear. Never stop praying.
Obedience. Are you willing to follow through with the calling on your life, even when it forces you out of your comfort zone?
Trust. You may not understand the calling on your life at first. Others may tell you it’s crazy. I got some weird looks and responses when I told people God had called me to run marathons. Do not listen to the doubters. Keep your eyes on God and trust Him for guidance and direction.
What is God calling you to today? I pray that God will guide your steps as you seek His calling in your life. ~OC