In our Sunday readings, we see what a call from God looks like and how God equips us to follow it. God speaks to Isaiah and touches his mouth, eradicating his sin and feelings of inadequacy, to enable him to prophesy. Jesus calls Simon Peter, as well as James and John, when he shows up at their work and performs a fishing miracle of abundance. In his astonishment, Simon is aware of his deficiency, but Jesus reassures him: “Do not be afraid.” They leave everything and follow.
For me, God’s call is not so direct and dramatic. It usually begins with a feeling of restlessness in my present circumstances and becomes a strong desire toward something else.
When I felt called to start God Space, I wasn’t sure exactly what God was calling me to do. I just felt edgy. I was looking for something more. I noticed how divided people were, and how there weren’t many spaces for us to come together for conversation. Young adults, and others too, were telling me about their longing for community and their desire to do something more with their spiritual lives. I noticed people’s loneliness and longing for connection. Looking back, I see my own loneliness and longing for connection, too. I wanted to start something that would hold a space for true connection and community, a space that would intentionally welcome everyone, especially across people’s differences. The desire to create this space kept me up at night and woke me up in the morning. Every time I talked with someone about it, I came to life. I was excited and terrified, but my enthusiasm was stronger than my fear.
The way I describe following God’s call might sound clichéd – follow your joy, etcetera. I don’t mean it in a trite, refrigerator magnet sort of way. Following God’s invitation is actually very hard for me. I feel doubt and fear. I worry that I will fail. I don’t hold things lightly but go hard at them, like a quarterback running down the field, gripping the ball and pushing through obstacles. It would be healthier – and more trusting – if I held my life gently, like opening my hand to a butterfly that lands and then goes where it will. Holding things lightly doesn’t come naturally to me, though.
However, it does help to remember that God is with me in every invitation that God extends. God always invites me to that which is for my good, even when it’s challenging. God helps me to accomplish it, just like Isaiah and Jesus’ first disciples. God doesn’t grip me like a football but holds me in an open hand, allowing me the freedom to fly where I will. No matter where I fly, God is beside me, always ready to invite me to a new adventure.
And so, we can say with Paul in his words to the Corinthians: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.”
By Sister Leslie Keener, CDP
Sister Leslie Keener, CDP is the director of God Space, a community-building spirituality ministry in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. She’s a Sister of Divine Providence with a Masters in Ministry and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University. She directs retreats, meets with people for spiritual direction, and serves as the vocation director for her community. She enjoys music, meaningful conversation, visiting breweries, and dancing – not necessarily in that order.