Rev. Thurman’s concept that quiet prayer makes room for the discernment of one’s purpose is a familiar one. I’ve heard all my life that I should pray for the Lord’s will to be made known. I’ve read books on how you know when it’s God’s will and not your own. I’ve also been in committee meetings where my expression of call has been questioned: “Is it God’s will or your will?”
I supposed the Will of God is heard or experienced and observed in a variety of ways, so I don’t presume to question someone’s calling, although we can have many conversations on how they live into their calling. It drives me crazy when someone in a role of authority, who doesn’t know me, acts suspicious over the validity of what I interpreted as God’s request for what my work will be in the world.
When people say they heard God say.. what was it they experienced? Was in a voice but not their own saying something audible only to them? Was it a sense of an indwelling Presence from which words came to mind? Was it a yearning of the heart which they translated into directives? Maybe all of the above?
Rev. Thurman talks about seeking answers, or at least clues, to the deeply felt need to discover the Will of God for your life. He says everyone wants to know that their life has meaning and purpose. I’m reminded of Mandisa’s song “Voice of a Savior”. She sings “some people try to listen to the end of a bottle.” Identifying all the places we look for answers, she sings “Some people try to listen in blind ambition”. She says we all have a void we try to fill up and try to hear the voice of a savior.
And then, there are people who don’t try to find their natural and God given purpose for being on this earth. Or they ignore or avoid it. And, many walk around really unhappy, to the point where they impact those who live and work with them. You can’t make someone do the work of discernment on their life’s purpose. Some people don’t even know you should and can consider a higher power’s image for us.
One of the things I’m interested in for ministry with young adults is to help them navigate this process even beginning in their Jr. and Sr. years in high school. Certainly as they leave their parent’s homes and support, they rebel and push ahead with their own ideas and desires. And, I believe it would be really helpful to them to have a trusted adult who will listen as they bring their questions and discoveries about themselves into conversation. Buoy them with pastoral care, career workshops, service projects and trips to inform them as they find their feet on the path they were created to travel.