"What next?" is the question on many students' minds and lips as they approach their graduation. This year, perhaps this question is even more apparent, with students wrestling with calling, purpose, and their next steps. In his book, 'A Call Less Ordinary', Rich Wilson, the leader of Fusion, shares some of his story working out what he was called to, and the lessons learned along the way. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1. You can buy the whole book here.
Calling and you: hearing the call
Dream big. These two words can prompt such different reactions. For some of us our dreams are alive and well and we do our best to chase them down. For others, these dreams seem hazy or hard to explain. For others still, these dreams have been shut down by fears, doubts and disappointments. Some might feel unable to dream or unable to trust their dreams. The good news for those who follow Jesus is that we follow a God who dreams for us. A God who installs dreams within us tha t, because of the dreamer, will come about; dreams that awaken purpose and meaning; dreams that, as you respond to God’s calling, you begin to find yourself participating in. Dreams that, like Samuel, we need to be awake to, no matter how or where they might begin.
I used to anticipate arriving at a place called ‘calling’, a place where everything would
become clear, my life plan would be revealed and I’d know what I was for. Imagine my
surprise, therefore, when my first ‘ignition moment’ – an encounter that would impress
something of the call of God within me – took place on an understated farm in Norwich and seemed to have little impact on my life as I returned home. In a culture that tells us to ‘dream big’, we can overlook the seeds of calling that so often start small, and are usually planted in us from the beginning.
Back to the beginning
‘Your childhood doesn’t define you, but God does, and he’s been working in you from day one.’
Whatever our upbringing, we can’t escape the fact that our childhood shapes us. The lessons learned in these early years are often hidden and subconscious, only to surface in later life. For many of us, they provide hints of our calling integrated into who God has made us to be. What’s more, when we respond to God, he takes all our days – the good, the bad and the ugly – and covers them with his grace, declaring, ‘I can use this!’ as he calls you forward. Your childhood doesn’t define you, but God does, and he’s been working in you from day one.
My own story begins in a small village about ten miles outside Manchester. I had lots to.be thankful for: a loving and supportive family, a good network of friends and lots of opportunities to play sport – a pursuit that made me feel fully alive. I was also brought up to go to church from a young age. Though this is something I am now very
grateful for, in my teenage years this was often not my attitude. Despite having a strong belief in God, I struggled to understand the relevance of the Church. I’d felt disillusioned, frustrated and agitated by the church meetings and, in a life stage where I needed role models and spiritual fathers, I didn’t recognise any in my church.
As the time neared to leave home for university, two changes were happening in me. The first was that I longed for a new adventure and was feeling increasingly fidgety. The second was a deeper spiritual hunger: while my desire for church was still lacklustre, my passion for God was growing. I’d had a spiritual encounter as a child, and one in my early teens, and another would form part of my preparation for university in the most unlikely of settings...