ROME (BP)–Calling, to me, is a funny thing.
In my experience, God’s call comes upon you with a furious intensity and drowns you in an incredible desire to do something huge and glorious, something that is completely beyond the measure of your own abilities.
It changes your path completely and thrusts you into a new and unknown world where utter reliance on the plan and providence of God is an absolute necessity. After a time, though, once the realities and routines of this new world have set in, some of that initial intensity fades a bit, and the calling evolves into the stabilizing foundation upon which every facet of your new life is built.
It never diminishes in its strength or importance, but rather than a sword with which to storm the walls of a lost world, calling becomes more of a compass for staying true to your path. I believe this evolution is necessitated by the fact that “the calling” serves two distinct roles.
People contentedly strolling along in an easy and comfortable life often need something violent and fierce to move them powerfully and awaken them to the harsh realities of a lost and dying world. Our Baptist cocoon often insulates us from the pain and hopelessness of a world without Christ.
Some of us, me included, need to be slapped pretty hard to see things clearly and hear the voice of God. Often it seems that change never comes to those who can stand to live without it. This initial calling causes us to be dissatisfied with anything else. It is undeniable and irresistible.
However, once you start down that path, you are confronted on a daily basis with these hard realities. You no longer need to be awakened; you need to be sustained. This life is incredibly difficult. A missionary must make the conscious decision every day that this lifestyle is still worth it. “The calling,” always lurking in the background, often gives you the strength to keep trudging forward.
This doesn’t mean the passion diminishes. On the contrary, the passion for the work grows as you witness with your own eyes the incredible ways in which God is at work in the world, as you see lives being transformed and you sense the intense pain in the hearts of those around you. You begin to understand the power of the Gospel and you long to see people receive the love of Christ.
I am convinced that this job to which I have been called is the greatest, hardest and most worthwhile way in which I could spend my life. And until I am called, kicking and screaming, to something else, there is nothing that could make me quit.
Grady Porter and his wife, Paige, serve as Southern Baptist missionaries in Rome. Originally from Georgia, they were appointed in 2000 and have a 1-year-old-son named Carter.