The Pressure to Find Our Vocation

The vocational call upon Elisha’s life appears to be a dramatically undeniable invitation and assignment from God. How many of us wish that our own call would be so crystal clear? Or feel internal or external pressure to find our sense of meaning and purpose in our vocation?
What if we approached this text and our lives with a posture of compassion and trust that the essence of who we are supercedes what we do? Let us pause and consider our vocation as first a way of being in this world. How do we want to be? Where is God inviting us to be?

1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 NLT

Then the LORD told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet.

19 So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”

Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”

21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.

For Prayer and Reflection:
What word or phrase shimmered as you listened to or read the text? Bring it into prayer with the Lord.

Reflect on your experience of being called into service. Is there something you want to talk over with God about it? Journal your conversation.

Rest in an consoling words or images which the Lord gave you.

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Follow the Trail of Tears

Tears are one of our places of greatest vulnerability. In spiritual direction we are encouraged to follow the trail of tears because our tears are a sure sign of the Spirit's presence and activity. Yet many are unable to cry or have not cried in years. Others wonder that if they begin to cry, they will drown in a sea of sorrow and never be able to stop. Finding a place of hospitality for our tears, in ourselves or another, can open up a possibility for healing, comfort and renewal. It takes courage to begin to feel our pain. Sometimes we need the help of others to contain and safeguard our overwhelming grief.

John 11:28-37 (ESV)

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[a in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

For Reflection and Prayer:
1. If there was a word, a phrase, or an image that sought your attention as you listened, stay with it and listen deeper with Jesus.
2. Place yourself in the story and notice which character you most relate to/with and rest into Jesus’ posture toward you.
3. If any of the emotions expressed in this passage (e.g. consoled, troubled, moved) touch you, linger there and pay attention to what else this may stir in you.

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Called By Name

Most of us can recall the sound of our name being called as a child - by a loving or frustrated parent, a delighted grandparent, a patient or anxious teacher, an exasperated sibling or playmate, an inspiring or demanding coach. Each call out told us something about our self. Were we welcome, delightful, acceptable, worthy or capable in that moment? Did that calling compel us to respond in trust and courage to that voice?
Listening for the voice of Jesus will ask us to examine how we hear him call us by name. Is the voice of love, hope and life calling us forward?

John 10:1-10 NLT
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Listen  In a comfortable, quiet place, slowly and carefully listen to or read the Bible passage. Notice any words or phrases or images that seem alive to you at the moment. Allow yourself to stop and hold them in your heart before God.
 
Meditate  Repeat the words or phrases slowly to yourself. Or linger with the image. Allow them to interact with your inner world of memories, ideas or concerns. Ask yourself what meaning they may have for you.
 
Conversation  Share what you are discovering with the words and/or images and how they touch your heart with Jesus. Ask Jesus what the Father is saying to you through this prayer time.
 
Contemplate  When words or pictures are no longer needed, allow yourself to rest on Jesus’ lap. Feel the strength and tenderness of the Father’s love for you. Allow it to pour into your heart and fill you up. Linger here, resting in God’s compassionate care for you.
 
Cooperative Action  Ask Jesus to show you what the Father wants to do from this prayerful reading time with you. If you desire it, ask him to cause that change to happen by the Spirit’s power and your obedience working together from this point.