Among the times God has “called” me was a memorable experience
I had as a student attending A&M United Methodist Church. It came to me as I sat in the pews, even before the formal service had begun—a reminder through the years to not take myself too seriously as I preached.
It—this “call”—came not as an audible voice or a command. No, it was more of a question that welled up from within. Having studied the lives of various saints (Peter, Paul, St. Francis, Ignatius, Wesley, Schweitzer,…), I found myself prayerfully pondering what it would mean—what it would look like—to be a “saint” (i.e., one totally and radically set apart for Christ) in this day.
To be sure, it isn’t the only time God has called me. To be sure, it certainly is a call to which I have yet to fully respond. Still, it nags my soul and “calls” me forward in faith: in many ways, my ongoing life and ministry in Christ has been an attempt to answer this haunting question.
I came across a prayer (from Joyce Rupp’s Fresh Bread) the other day – during some Spiritual Direction coursework — that seems to embody the yearning and hopes at the core of this quest(ion), this journey. It’s been called “The Prayer of a Disciple.” I find myself embracing it as the prayer of an “already-and-yet-still-incomplete” saint:
that you would think my heart capable of belonging to you!
You have filled my life with your goodness in so many ways.
I hear the call to give myself to your love
in an ever deeper and more complete way.
I long to follow you so totally
that you are evident
in every fiber of my life.
I pray for faith,
that long-lasting, true sense of you
that weathers all storms,
that comes across the waters bravely when you ask for me,
that sinks into your love and lets go of anxieties and worries,
that looks long into the eyes of others’ sufferings,
that takes care to be gentle with sinners
and those whose lives are never free
from intense pain of body or spirit.
I pray for love,
that great and generous-enough love
that looks compassionately upon all,
that love which accepts others
with their mystery, doubt, hesitation,
that love which reaches out
even though there is no response in return,
that love which is patient and kind,
that kind of love, which is your love,
never jealous, boastful or conceited,
that love which is never rude or selfish
but rather, always ready to excuse, to trust,
to hope and to endure whatever comes.
I yearn for you to be the intimate Master,
the one at whose feet I can sit and ponder the message,
the one whose hand I can hold and walk with when I am afraid,
the one at whose side I can sit as we taste the meal,
the one whose robe I can touch, even in the crowd.
I will follow.
I will rejoice in loving you and being loved by you.
I need to hear your voice over and over and over again.
I need to keep reclaiming all the intimacy you hold out to me.
I need to let go of all the selfishness that binds me.
I need to believe that you want to win over my heart completely.
master, shepherd, lover, leader!
Here I am again.
Please claim me as your own.