A vocation is a call from God that, upon our response, becomes the means of our sanctification and helps to define our role in his Divine Plan. God calls every single person. Sadly, not everyone responds, and many respond half-heartedly. This is no wonder! The response is not always (maybe ever!) easy, but worth every effort. What are some ways that we can continue to grow in our vocation or respond to the call for the first time?
As I reflected on this question, a particular story in Sacred Scripture came to mind. It is one that I have always liked, and which is often passed over or forgotten:
The Call of Gideon and his Chosen Army in Judges 7. In this chapter, we discover that response requires overcoming fear, placing all our trust in God, living in the moment, and enjoying the consolations and gifts that the Lord bestows on us.
The Lord called Gideon to lead the people of Israel against their enemies. Gideon obeyed and assembled a large army that was prepared to go to battle. However, the Lord required Gideon to separate out the men so that the Lord could choose a special few to do battle in his name, in order to be sure that he received the Glory.
The first quality that the Lord sought was courage. Gideon gave those who were afraid the possibility of returning to camp. In other words, it was not because they felt fear that they were not chosen. It was because the fear had come to overcome all else. When fear is deeply rooted in the heart, it turns our thoughts in on ourselves and shrivels up energy that would be best focused on the Lord. Fear prevents many from being able to offer 100%. Vocation is the giving of self, not in halves, but wholly as the Lord has given himself to us.
Fear, though a natural emotion, should not prevent us from following the Lord. It should not have so much control over our life as to keep us from living out our vocation day to day or responding to his call to join him in the priesthood, consecrated life, or marriage.
Overcoming fears grip – no matter how slight - is a momentous task. Still, it is not enough. Interlinked tightly with this gift of courage is the gift of trust and gratitude. We trust the Lord to care for us after the response and throughout its fulfillment, and we are able to live in the moment and gratefully use all the gifts he showers upon us.
This is enough for today, so we will look at these two other points later.