I received a comment from the teacher of our Sunday morning class and I want to address the questions he asks.
"Thanks for the story, Marty. I'm so interested to hear how you received your call. I know the grad school rejections and the affirmations of people around you and the experience of the Creative Ministries Festival were all a part of it, but I'm wondering about the thoughts and emotional impressions that ran through your mind in the decision making process. While I don't want to just say "there was a reason" (I have own my own desert wanderings that lead me to say "I wish I had known"), the faith is that all things work together for good. And just for the fun of it, what does the call look like for you now?"
I should have known that someone was going to throw that "all things work together for good" thing in my face. The truth of the matter is, I agree with him. I don't doubt that the call was legit. My doubt comes in the manner in which it was carried out. Perhaps the journey I took was the right course of action for me. Perhaps not. Regardless, I am a better man today for the experiences I had yesterday. Of that I have no doubt. It's become a cliche but "That which does not kill you makes you stronger," is as true as it's ever been.
Now, on to the "thoughts and emotional impressions" I had while dealing with the call. I'm unsure how to address this. It was a long time ago and I am such a different person now than I was then. As far as thoughts go, I think it all made sense to me but on an emotional level, fear reigned supreme. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of being uncomfortable, fear and fear itself. I also remember anger. I was angry at God for not allowing me to continue to pursue my dream of becoming an artist. One of my friends in SC always referred to his call as "when God ruined my life." When I heard him say that, a little voice inside of me said, "YES!" God took me off the course I had chosen for my life and set me on a path that was so foreign to me. Or perhaps he called with a different path in mind and the council of man, along with my naive decisions, set me on the wrong path. I don't know. In thinking about all this, I feel like I'm watching a time-travel movie and I'm trying to keep all of the timelines straight in my head. I think my eyes just went cross.
Now, on to the easier question: What does the call look like for me now? Well, I think it may still exist but, if it does, it is very, very weak. Is it a weak call from God? Probably not. It's more that I'm not listening like I used to. I haven't really been speaking to him much over the past couple of years. I'm a bit angry at him. You see, he extended the call and I answered and what resulted was years of depression and heartache. I just couldn't understand why he would set me up to fail and it made me angry. If he is God, he could have done something about the injustices that I had to endure...but he didn't. I know this line of thinking could go on and on but I have to get back to the question at hand. Perhaps I'll visit this subject again later.
What does the call look like for me now? Here are the only bits of the answer that I have so far. God may still be calling but I'm not listening or God is not calling anymore. I tend to think he may still be calling because there are weak "epiphanies of recruitment"* happening from time to time. It's not much of an answer but it's the only one I have at the moment.