Thursday, September 13, 2012

A letter to N on calling

I'm writing this to a friend who will be flying off for further studies. His decision did not come easy. The official arrangement itself does not help to make it less difficult. Many times this brother has doubted his decision. Looking at his former classmates, like myself who is now serving in ministry, makes him more skeptical over his calling. The following is written to destroy his optimism that fuels his skepticism, and choke his pessimism on his decision.


Dear N, 

When we were still studying, I was struggling with envy inwardly almost every other day. My peers and I were in our late twenties, approching thirty. While I was still studying on charitable donation (and some part-time earning), they were making decent living and saving up. While I was staying in hostel and commuting through public transport, they are setting up family, acquiring houses and cars. Their admirable life was an envy.

My guess is that you can sympathize with what is described above.

Your current phase in life is probably a dread. The surrounding uncertainty has made you doubtful over your decision. Fortunately, your doubt is incapable to eliminate your sense of calling. 

Remember the time when we were sitting at the dining hall talking about our calling? Who would have thought that I'm now doing what I'm doing, while you're keeping yourself on track with what you said you would do?

At that time, I thought we share the same calling. Yet time has taught me that we don't. It is a discovery to me that calling is not only characterized by our envisioned ambition, but entails the very process of how it is realized. Yes, both of us sensed that we are called to be in the academia for Christ's sake. But that is only one part of what constitutes as calling. The other part is the process about which we arrive at it. 

However, I think there is a third part to what constitutes a calling: The interdependency of different callings. That means the process of me pursuing my calling cannot be fulfilled without depending on your pursuit of your calling. A reflection of 1 Cor. 12:21-26.

This means that in order for me to continue my journey to actualize my calling, I need you to continue in yours to actualize yours; and vice versa. Only through this that both of us can serve the Lord and his church. In practical terms, while I contribute out of my exposure to local ecclesial community, you contribute out of your exposure to the academic ecclesial community. Bridges are formed in this way. How urgent do we need such a bridge in our context!

We need both soyabean milk and grass jelly to make soyabean milk with grass jelly! The sum is not the parts, just as soyabean with grass jelly is neither soyabean nor grass jelly.

For this reason, you are studying not only for Christ's sake, but also for mine. Likewise, I'm doing what I'm doing is not only for the sake of the Lord but also for yours. Our callings are interdependent to each other as well as others' calling. All members form one body.

Therefore, don't be disheartened or feel that you are the 'odd one out' among your peers who are being left behind. The fact is that everyone is. And when everyone is, no one is. All of us are contributing to the same Lord, and to one another.

So fly safe, enjoy life there with your wife, and get ready to rub shoulders with giants over at the other side!


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