I asked it hundreds of times -- and I know many of you have too! How do I know that I am being called by God?

It's a wonderful question that says so much just by asking it, for the question itself touches into nothing less than an encounter with the Living God! When we ask about whether God is calling us, we've often had some kind of experience where we feel a nudge, a pull, some kind of attraction that doesn't seem wholly of our own making. This experience may also feel like something that is totally absurd and simultaneously totally awesome!

By way of an initial response, God is indeed calling you. God wants to draw close to you. Think about how you are with someone who is a friend -- a good friend or maybe someone that you're like, wow, we could totally be buds! You want to hang out, shoot the breeze, share things of consequence, and well, just BE together! God is like that too and the sense of being called is God's way of saying, "Let's hang out more, let's share our lives more with one another."

This is where I think this question starts to get interesting because with God there is no "one calling or bust" -- the calling is not so much a thing or destination as it is a way of being in relationship with God. And so a bit deeper into this question we find our own selves immersed in (and quite possibly shocked by) God's immeasurable love for us ... and desire to see us flourish! Who me!?

That is indeed something to tangle with -- in a good way, of course! That God truly, madly, deeply loves us (borrowing from Savage Garden) can blow us away and indeed be life-changing. It's good to spend a little time with that!

Over here no this way discern directionThe next part of the question has more to do with how that calling is allowed to transform our lives. With God, the sense of being called is also about being most fully who we are created to be, most fully ourselves in God. That might mean engaging in a particular work; developing a certain "virtue" or habit of being or beatitude; commiting to a relationship or a set of relationships as community or as family.

This is where we want to know what to do, who to be with, what path to take, what bridge to cross. It can be a lot of pressure, fun, heartbreaking, adventuresome, and prayer-full to be in this space of wondering. It's okay to feel any or all of these things. There's no magical way to know where your God-attraction will lead, but you can look to some clues in and around you:

  • the idea brings you a sense of peace, which is not to say it won't feel uncomfortable or a little scary or be challenging
  • it feels like "you"
  • friends and mentors that really get you can see how it would be a good fit
  • you're able to use your unique talents, gifts, experience, and perspective on life
  • you are able to be of service to others
  • you have a sense of excitement, attraction, adventure
  • you can see a consistent "message" from God in your prayer and life
  • people remark that when you are involved in the thing you think might be your calling, you seem happy and alive
  • when you encounter someone doing/being the thing you might be called to, you are like YAY!

Probably one of the biggest ways to get a sense of a particular calling is to try it out. Take little steps toward the thing you are wondering about. Be persistent. Take a big step. No matter what happens, you are getting good information about yourself, about God, and about your path in life. And the awesome part is that God is with you every step of the way.

What's it like for you to be in the space of trying to figure out how God is calling you? What has helped you get a sense of what to do?