Discerning God’s Calling

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and night wraps itself around me,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Scripture Reading
Psalm 139:1-12 (NRSV)

God’s calling is in relation to transforming our lives. The Greek word is “metanoia.” And we are transformed from a former way of life – a former life of thinking, living, and doing, and even loving, or even a former way of believing, and worshiping – to a new way of thinking, living, doing, loving, praying, worshiping, and believing.

It is both the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us, and our own inner and internal intention or desire to be transformed.

God’s anointing, and therefore God’s calling, is first and foremost, God’s work. Siya ang unang mover. Hindi tayo. No matter how feeling natin ang galing-galing natin, hindi tayo ang prime mover. God is the prime mover. The Holy Spirit is the “anima” or the mysterious force that seems to move the pieces together even when we do not understand, even when bad things happen, or when we do not feel things immediately.

In our reading in Psalm 139, it says: “God, You have searched me and known me.”

So, the one you are searching has first searched for you. For many of us who are here in MCC, the reason why we are here is because we tried to search for God somewhere else. And the one we were searching for is the one who first searched for us, and already knows us, even when you still didn’t know this God. Even when you were not searching for God. Even when you tried your best to run away, or even did terrible things in the past, or even when you actually rejected God because you experienced rejection from those who spoke in behalf of God.

God has searched you first.

The other part of the Psalm says: “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, the Land of the Dead, you are there.”

So the other biblical truth or Christian truth is that every moment and every place is filled with God, and is within God.

There is an emerging concept of God called “panentheism.” It is the idea that there is divinity in everything, or God is in everything and everything is in God. The universe is within God. But God is more than the universe or the creation.

God is not the Earth or the universe itself. But the universe is encapsulated within the Godness of God. Even Apostle Paul says, “In God, we live and move and have our being.”

Another way of expressing this, is the concept that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death.

Palagi nating sinasabi at naririnig, “God is in your heart” – but there is also the idea that we are in the heart of God. We live in the heart of God.

A different way of thinking about it is that we live within the heart of God. God is not individualized. God is not your ownership. We do not own God, but rather, God encompasses all of us, everyone. Embraces all of us.

In determining, in discerning God and God’s call, we have to be reminded and to reclaim the ancient wisdom and truth that it is God who first searched for us, it is God who has known as first, who seeks us out even when we try to run away or hide, or even when we reject God because we experienced rejection and harm from those who speak in behalf of God.

There is no absolute way that we can escape God. Because we live within God.

But how do we discern God and God’s calling? Paano natin malalaman? Paano natin ma-re-reflect ang calling ng Diyos? How do we search out the one who has searched us first? How do we tune in to the presence that is always here and now?

One way is reading the signs of our lives. In the book “The Alchemist,” it is articulated there the practice of reading the signs of our lives, reading the signs of your life. Reading the signs of your experiences and relationships. Even reading the signs of our mistakes and failures. Reading the signs of where we have been, and where we are now, and where we think or feel that we are going. Reflection and introspection, and the full honesty of one’s own self.

What are the painful lessons of my own mistakes in the past? There are reasons and meaning sometimes.

Minsan mayroong rason at may meaning ang mga bagay-bagay. Pero minsan din, wala. Dapat maging aware din tayo na mayroong mga bagay sa buhay natin na wala namang sign – na tayo talaga ang may gawa. Huwag nating lahat isisi kay Lord. Huwag natin lahat idamay kay Lord. Kaya dapat may discernment at may introspection.

A calling from God is also not necessarily about church life. There are a variety of ministries and callings. So, in discerning your calling and reading the signs, unlearn the idea that calling is about becoming clergy or a pastor.

All the callings are equally valuable. So in discerning your calling and reading the signs, unlearn that idea.

Let us also unlearn the idea that we only have one calling in life.

Are you called to be a councilor? A listener? Are you called to be an activist? Or are you called to be a teacher or a mentor?

Who am I, and what is my value to this world or to a certain community? How do I discern and reflect this?

Silence. Intentional silence. Katahimikan.

The devil does not like silence. And the devil will try its best to always distract you and bring noise to your life. Because the devil knows that it is through silence that God speaks to you.

It is through silence that God reveals God’s self. Silence is the frequency of God’s voice in a world full of noise. In a world full of violence.

In the book “The Obstacle Is The Key” by Ryan Holiday, it says: “despite being geographically apart, both western Greek philosophies and spiritualities and eastern oriental philosophies and spiritual traditions, speaks about the importance of stillness, or silence and calmness. And if silence has been spoken about, orally and written, for thousands of years, from different cultures and traditions – then, how arrogant of us to think that it is foolish, useless, or no longer relevant in our world today.”

Ryan Holiday also uses the metaphor of a Japanese archer – that absolute inner stillness is the key to sharply hitting the mark.

Stillness allows us to have greater clarity, focus, and sharpness on what truly matters in life, and in our world. Stillness or inner silence gives perspective and insight. The ancients also tells us directly and indirectly that silence builds up inner strength and courage. Stillness builds up resilience, and helps us also to build integrity.

We need to rediscover and reclaim the practice of silence in our lives individually and as a church. We need to struggle to become comfortable with silence. And also to remove the stigma of silence. That silence is useless, or silence is unnecessary.

Silence or stillness requires intentional practice and consistency for spiritual strength and endurance. Silence, like physical exercise, benefits and prolongs our lives.

God’s anointing is linked to God’s calling, before during and after the anointing. And discerning of our calling is a lifelong process or journey. There are many and different callings in life, each according to the to our gifts, identities, and experiences.

Read the signs of your life, experience, and relationship. You can only know your calling if you are intentional to practice silence or stillness in your life. All of it which are grounded into truth, that God has searched you and known you first, before you have. That you live, move, in God – and God holds you within God’s heart. Therefore, there is no moment that you are ever far away or distant from God and God’s love.

You are in God, and God is with you, in you, around you, and through you. Even when you try to run away, or even when it doesn’t feel that way.

You have a calling. God is always with you, calling in the stillness, even in the disturbance of the night.


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