I was reading from Samuel Rima's Living from the Inside Out and trying to map my sense of calling and vocation together with a spiritual formation class today. I know various professors at IWU have some differing ideas about these sorts of things. I had never really taken the time to sort them all out.
Today, I think I've mapped them for myself, but you can help me see if I've missed something.
All Christians are the "elect," the called, as Rima says. We are called to be conformed to the image of Christ, both in this life and at the resurrection. Christians of course have differing understandings of what is behind this calling--does God choose entirely who the "called" are or is divinely empowered human response part of the equation. But all Christians would accept that we are all "the called."
Christians have differing senses of how much of a micro-manager God is with the nitty gritty of our lives. Does God have "the right one" picked out for you since before the foundation of the world? Does God have a plan for whether you become a plumber or someone who pours concrete, a doctor or a lawyer? Rick Warren thinks so...
... and I think he's loony. I believe God mostly lets us decide whether we have vanilla or strawberry ice cream. I believe most of the time God lets the so called laws of physics operate as they do, which unfortunately means occasionally a mass of metal moving on an x axis intersects with a mass of metal on a y axis and someone ends up in the hospital.
In situations like this one, the decision--at least as I conceptualize it--is whether God intervenes or not. I do not believe He directs everything that happens of this sort. He allows it. On most things, I do not believe God has a specific will but we have to buck up our lazy "plan it all out for me will you Daddy" attitudes and take responsibility for our lives.
However, sometimes God does intervene and sometimes God does call on every level. I believe sometimes God does have one person picked out for you--although not most of the time. I believe sometimes God does want you to be a plumber and nothing else--although not most of the time. I believe that God does call people into ministry and "woe is me if I preach not the gospel."
I am not willing to say that such callings are for life, necessarily. Amos was called to be a prophet one afternoon in the northern kingdom. I wonder if he spent most of the rest of his life back with sycamore trees.
The way I've skinned the cat in my mind today...