by Sarah Carson—
I’ve had more jobs in my life than you will probably believe.
I’ve been a dishwasher, a nanny, a stable-cleaner/horse-sitter. I’ve arranged flowers, delivered newspapers, waited tables and built towering displays of pop cans in grocery stores.
Even after I earned my bachelor’s degree and assumed I’d found my forever-career in video production, for years I paid the bills by jumping from one project to another: editing documentaries, teaching scriptwriting classes, and even helping to produce an internet TV series about quilting.
Some of these jobs, like my stint setting up make-up displays in department stores, I’ll admit I did half-heartedly. Others, like the month I spent substitute teaching in a kindergarten class, were incredibly fun, but I knew they weren’t things I would do forever.
When I signed up for a creative writing class in my final semester of college, though, I had an inkling that there might be something else in store for me. When asked to write a poem or a story or an article about human trafficking, and I’d stay up late into the night trying to make it perfect. A switch flipped inside me. I could feel my heart open, and my soul engage.
Maybe you have something like this in your life. Some might call it a passion or labor of love. Christians say it’s a calling, or in the words of Martin Luther, a vocation. As Bible study author Kathryn A. Kleinhans writes, “According to Luther, everything we do to respond to the needs of our neighbor in any way is a vocation, a calling from God” (p. 24).
Does writing, editing and publishing “respond to the needs of our neighbor”? I think so. Especially when we have the opportunity to meet Gather readers who say a particular article or issue touched their lives.
After all, so much of the work we do in our lives impacts others, although we may not realize it. As Amy White writes of her grandmother, even the way we live can be an act of calling: “I see how much she delights in life and the way she invites others to delight in it too” (p. 44).
For Liz Colver, this calling came when she found ELCA Deaconess Association (p. 32). For Gather reader Nancy Agafitei, this calling came in the library (p. 18). For the many female ELCA pastors, the road to their callings was paved by Lutheran women before them who insisted that women were just as gifted to serve God’s kingdom as men (p. 10).
Being called to a vocation doesn’t mean this work will come easily, of course. As Ralen M. Robinson points out, even when we love our work, it’s easy to become tired or weary (p. 5). When God calls us, though, God does not leave us. “God acts with compassion and justice, shielding us, protecting us and renewing us,” Julie A. Kanarr writes (p. 44). “We are not alone.”
As this issue—and the four-session Bible study we will embark on this winter—make clear, each of us, regardless of who or where we are, is called uniquely and distinctly by God.
I know I am fortunate to get to live out God’s call for my life with each issue of Gather. My prayer is that you also will know God’s call—and that maybe this issue of Gather will help you see your work in the world anew.
Sarah Carson is associate editor of Gather.
This article is from the January/February 2020 issue of Gather magazine. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.
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