One of the summer shows I watch is “The Jim Gaffigan Show” on TV Land. I’ve always enjoyed Jim Gaffigan’s comedy and have even seen him live (of course I would love his comedy. He does ten minutes on bacon!). What was interesting was the episode that originally aired on June 20th titled “The Calling.”
In this episode, Jim keeps seeing his priest everywhere in a dream and that every time he sees his priest, he asks Jim to do something. Eventually Jim runs into him in real life and the priest asks Jim to be on the parish soccer team. While playing soccer, Jim notices that the priest, Father Nicholas, is really good at soccer. In a subsequent conversation, Jim finds out that Father Nicholas was a soccer star in Africa, a model, went to the London School of Economics, and then gave it all up to go to become a priest. This flabbergasts Jim that his priest would have given up all that to become a priest and Father Nicholas explains that being a priest was his calling and that everyone has a calling. This perplexes Jim and he isn’t sure what his calling is. We find him talking with his wife and friends about their callings and they are all clear to them and Jim is still stumped. Jim thinks that a calling needs to be something significant, something that can change the world. Eventually he decides that his calling must be as a stand-up comedian and at the end of the episode, as Jim is at the pearly gates, he finds out his true calling was to be a father.
I enjoyed this episode a lot but it also brings a point that I think many of us struggle with: what is our God-giving calling? Like Jim, we might think that means some sort of earth-changing kind of thing. But I believe it might be more simple than that. I think our calling is not about our vocation (though it can be), but rather about who we truly are. What gifts we have that help spread the love of Christ in ways obvious and not so obvious. We often resist our calling, especially if it has to do with the church in any way, because our callings often push our boundaries or take us in directions we might never have thought we could go.
The other thing is I think we might have multiple calling. That it might not just be one thing. We can be called to be a farmer and a father, a teacher and a mother, a Wal-Mart greeter and a friend. I think we have callings both inside and outside of the church but that our calling is still a gift from God that can be used to build up the body of Christ and spread the love of Christ in word and deed.
So, how do we know when we have found our calling or callings? I think that is a question that can have a variety of answers (and doesn’t come with a beam of light that shines on us, like in the episode) but I can only answer for me. For years I had dreamed of being a teacher and coach. Yet, when I finally (after many years of resistance, denial, and outright running as fast as I could away from it) accepted that God was calling me to be a pastor, it was unbelievably scary and comforting at the same time. I cannot imagine doing anything else in the world and that even if I won 500 million dollars in the Powerball I would still be here on Sunday mornings preaching. The only other thing that brings fulfillment and happiness and joy in the same way is being a husband.
You have a calling from God. It might not be obvious, but it is there. Live out your calling and continue to use that calling to spread the love of Christ.