Then there were the college dorm days. We had one floor phone which served about twenty girls. On Friday or Saturday night, when that phone rang, there would be a breathless mad rush to the little booth at the end of the hall. I always felt like the man of John’s Gospel sitting at the side of the pool at Siloam. The call seemed never to be for me.
Today we all have cell phones. Even eight-year-olds have cell phones, so each call is personal. When a call comes in, it’s always for you.
I sometimes call friends on their cell phone. Daniel, can you talk now? “No, I’m folding laundry.” Maryann, can you talk now? “No, I’m in the supermarket.” Patrick, can you talk now? “No, it’s a tense moment with my in-laws.” (Oops.) Caroline, can you talk now? “No, I’m in the bathroom.” (Oops again.)
In a small way, I discover, I begin to feel as God might feel.
What is the acceptable time to make a call? When is the perfect moment to receive a call?
In my practice as a spiritual and vocational director I get an even better sense of how God feels about trying to get through to us. “I just don’t know what God is calling me to do,” some say. Or, “I don’t think God is calling me to anything—or to anything in particular.” In reply I usually ask: Can you tell me how you actually listen? In frustration some say, “I really want this for my life, but I’m afraid God is going to call me to that.” My reply: Have you considered getting out of the driver’s seat?
The truth is, God is calling you all the time. God’s got your number—memorized! Even if you’re already a mom or dad, or a student, a web designer, teacher, or business owner; even if you’re already a landscaper, a farmer, office worker, or bank teller, even if you’re already a religious or a priest, God is still calling you. And God continually calls you in two directions at once: more deeply to the center of your life, as well as to the frontier of your life, the unexplored edge, the place where you have not yet been. God continually calls and invites and nudges, and even challenges you to be more fully yourself-in-God. God continually leads you into the unexplored territory of your life.
One of today’s biggest challenges to “hearing the call” is the incessant deluge of distractions which keep us off center just enough so that there’s always a perfectly good reason why we cannot give ourselves wholeheartedly to God’s perfect plan for our lives and for the world we touch. In the Gospels, Jesus’ would-be followers had perfectly good reasons why they could not follow him just then: They would be constantly on the move, with no place to rest their head (how inconvenient); or they needed to wait until their parents died (how untimely). They would have to forsake their family and the comforts of home life, forsake the path to riches and success. How impractical, all of it!
Jesus encountered distractions, too. Recall the temptations he underwent in the desert, Satan’s mighty—and mighty smooth—effort to pull Jesus off center. Jesus did not put on his “God suit” and fend off these very appealing distractions. Rather, in his humanity he had to set his will on the one important thing: being the authentic Son of his Father.
Will you let the distractions in your world push you over? Or will you be the unique son or daughter which only you can be, attentive to God’s call?