Finally giving in to God's call
Jason Boone, coordinating minister for the Peace and Justice Support Network
There have been several times in my life when I have experienced a strong sense of God leading me to new understandings, circumstances, and ways of living. Every time I’ve followed these leadings, my life was impacted dramatically for the better—not necessarily in material terms, but they brought me closer to God, which is what we’re really after even when we think we want money, status and security.
As satisfying as those calls and subsequent journeys have been, I have a history of resisting them, initially at least. I’d much rather do my thing and have God work around that than to have my world disordered. My calls have started as lovely invitations to follow God into a new space. I resist, not overtly, but I wait around, taking time to “discern.” I put off facing the reality of God in favor of being the master of my own imaginary universe. And so God starts to dismantle that universe, breaking down my illusory pillars of security and identity. Pretty soon, I’m left with no options but to follow God.
In my 20s, I made a sharp career change and began to work with nonprofit organizations that addressed poverty. Sounds gallant! The reality is that I kept putting off God until I had no choice but to follow. Not until the thoughts of continuing the status quo became bitter and burdensome was I ready to try something new. My life hasn’t been the same since, in wonderful ways. I wish I could say that afterward I learned to trust God when he calls. Not the case.
When my wife and I joined the Mennonite Church, it was the culmination of many things, and ultimately, we believe, a call from God. I can look back and see God leading us on that path. But I can also see us resisting, for not very good reasons: “It’s awkward to go to a new church,” we thought. “We won’t know people.” It was indeed awkward and we didn’t know anyone other than the pastor. That brief social discomfort pales in comparison to the richness we’ve found in our community. The call was the right one, even though it didn’t look appealing.
I can report some progress, though. About a year ago, it seemed as if the tried and true ways I had for relating with God had run dry. Nothing was working. Scripture seemed distant; prayer was mechanical. It went on for about a month. A spiritual mentor of mine suggested I try silence and more contemplative ways of approaching God. My first thought was, “I’m not going anywhere near this hippie nonsense.” But there was a small, persistent voice in my heart, barely audible next to the loud, cynical voice in my head, urging me to give it a try. I did, and have found a closeness to God I never knew I was missing. I think I answered this call quicker than in the past, and I hope I'll continue responding quickly to whatever calls are to come.
Jason Boone is coordinating minister for the Peace and Justice Support Network. He lives in Raleigh, N.C., and attends Raleigh Mennonite Church.