Tuesday, March 4, 2008

God's Call Waiting

God's Call Waiting
Be faithful where you are while you wait for God's call.
by John Ortberg,

I keep a small rock on my desk with a single word painted on it: naviget. I cherish that rock. My wife gave it to me during a spell that was dry for me and hard for us; when I felt like my past was crumbling and I was not sure what the future held. And if you don't know Latin, keep reading; you'll eventually find out what it means.

I first came across this word in a wonderful article by theologian Gilbert Meilander called "Divine Summons." The article was about the notion of calling and vocation, which have long been vexing subjects for me, because I wondered if I would ever get one...

...Which brings me back to the article by Meilander. He writes about how Aeneas, in Virgil's The Aeneid, has a divine summons to be the founder of Rome—"I am the man/whom heaven calls." But building Rome is not what Aeneas wants to do. He is forced to give up his love and his attachment to the past.

For a calling is very different than a quest for fulfillment. A calling, though we glamorize it, is not glamorous. It is a response to a summons. It is a kind of surrender. It is a willingness to die to the past and move to the future. C.S. Lewis wrote, "To follow the vocation does not mean happiness, but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow."

Aeneas does not want to leave his home to follow his calling; it means leaving old dreams and old loves. But there is a larger and better destiny to which he is called to submit. So Jupiter says of him, "That man should sail."

And he does. Sailing means embracing the pain of leaving behind what he thought was his comfort and fulfillment. It means trusting that somehow he is not just moving into the future; he is being led. It is Abraham leaving Ur for he knows not what. It is Moses leaving Egypt for a land he will never enter. It is Jesus walking the Via Dolorosa toward a hill he does not want to climb.
"That man should sail." It meant—a little like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show—it's better to have the faith to embrace reality with all its pain than to cling to the false comfort of a painless fantasy. That life and growth and meaning can come only in the risk of obedience. The future—even if it's hard—is better than nostalgia.

It meant that in leaving port there was something to sail to. It meant hope.
"That man should sail." I did. I have. I am. The phrase in Virgil is a single Latin word written on the rock my wife gave me in love and trust. The word sits on my desk each day to remind me: Naviget.

John Ortberg is editor at large of Leadership and the pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

read complete article here


  1. Hi Alex,
    Thanks for the article. I'm experiencing something similar at the moment. Praying, waiting and weighing options - to go or stay? to quit or to remain? if I stay or remain, how long more?

    Please pray for me that God will show me in the days ahead and that I will make a decision that is according to His will. Thanks.


  2. hi Jason,

    I know what you must be going through as I have to face similar crossroads before.

    Be assured of my prayers for you.