I've been thinking a lot about vocation these past few days, and how we discern it. I remember as a young lad being told by people I respected and trusted that they thought I had a calling to the Priesthood. Living in a vast council estate at the time, a place Billy Connolly called a "desert with windows", it was not the done thing to offer yourself for ordination. There were more attractive "gangs" to follow. Did I want to be a priest? Not really. Did I feel called? Well there was a growing conviction in my teenage heart that this was maybe something God might want me to do, and I was encouraged to test that vocation. The rest is history!
However, even days and hours before ordination, there was the nagging doubt in my soul that this was ego-centred, and that I was delusional and the Church misguided. During my many years of ministry, that feeling, that nagging away in my soul has returned from time to time and I wonder whether I should return to the real world and work for a living. And then something happens, or something is said, and my soul receives the affirmation that it needs that this IS what God wants me to do, and where he wants me to be!
How God calls us, either to the sacred ministry or to particular posts within that ministry, is not always very clear-cut. There may be conviction in your heart that this is what God wants and needs you to do, but that always has to be tested against other things. It is good to chat things over with the wise, and others who know you well. This can bring two sorts of responses. From people who don't want to see you leave a current post, there will tend to be a negative reaction sometimes. "You belong to us, we own you, and don't be silly"! (My italics). From others there will be massive affirmation and encouragement, and the pushj you need to test things further.
At the end of the day, it's your prayer, and your quiet time with God that is most likely to discern what your vocation, your calling, is. It is at that point, in the stillness that the voices are replayed, the various arguments for and against are evaluated, and the inner-strength to go on or continue discerning comes about.
It is far from what I may want, but it is what God wants of me that needs discerning at every point in ministry, and that can be forgotten in the excitement, the possibilities, the slow drip into the delusional ego.
AA teaches me to keep it in today. Today I have a difficult thing to do. I need to bury a young man, dead long before his time, and comfort his widow and son to the best of my ability. This is where God wants me and what he wants me to do today.
Tomorrow, who knows? However, it's an exciting journey this vocation thing!