Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yes to God's Call

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do this.
God trying to get your attention?
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Finding the time for yes proceeds in a three-step progression, which we move through in order to live a beautiful, excellent, and successful life. These three steps are “key” in the sense that they unlock the doors that lead us to what is best. They represent what experts on happiness since the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle have called “human flourishing.”

As I’ve reflected personally and read a variety of ancient and contemporary psychologists, business gurus, theologians, philosophers and the like, and as I’ve interviewed acquaintances and people I’ve admired, here’s the progression of yes:
Listening, Testing, and Grooving
First of all, to discover the life just beyond our nos, we begin by listening for a deeper Voice, calling us. This involves becoming quiet and seeking to hear the God who calls. It’s what Naomi Wolf described well (and which I’ve already cited in Say Yes to No): one “listens to an inward voice one recognizes as wiser than one’s own, and transcribes without fear.” Or biblically (as the prophet Samuel said in 1 Samuel 3:10), “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

We begin by listening for God’s call, and I will offer several ways to do just that. Our yes implies that we hear the Voice of God calling us uniquely and specifically to do God’s mission of love and justice in the world. This listening may seem automatic with guaranteed results, but in fact, it requires that we learn and prepare ourselves, that we learn how to tune our ears.

The second step in the progression of yes is testing. This is a transitional and shorter section in this book, and I begin with a question: Are you hearing some yeses? It’s time to test them out. We often listen through our intuition, and the results can be profound, but they’re frequently inexact. (By the way, I could have used “noodling” or “jamming” for this section to keep with the musical motif, but I like the poetry of “testing the yes.”)

Among many examples, I think of the great physicist Albert Einstein, who first knew the answers to general and special relativity theory intuitively, but then he and others still had to work hard to prove these theories mathematically and experimentally. Testing is a process that verifies the validity of what we’ve heard.

This results in the third movement, grooving with a healthy rhythm of yeses and nos, where notes and silences, beats and spaces, produce beautiful music and where we move with the heartbeat of life. Here I’ve learned from the insights of researchers and writers who emphasize that our lives produce excellence when there is a rhythm of rest and work. As a percussionist would say, when we live this rhythm, then we groove. (Since I’m a percussionist, I guess I can say it.)

This progression of yes plays out in our personal life, our work, and our relationships. In our personal life, we say yes to what makes sense for the way we are created. In work, we seek to make the world a better place by using our particular gifts and passions for what God wants in the world. In our relationships, we learn how all this makes a lot more sense—and becomes a lot more fun—when we do it with others.

I call this the triangle of life, work, and love. To live a healthy life, this triangle needs some level of balance among the three sides. For example, we can’t seek our own personal and career success without good relationships. This makes a flat triangle where we feel flattened in the process because we are created to love.

Saying yes to God’s call is about all of life, not just our work (and for Christians, certainly not just what we do for the church). In the U.S. we are too focused on what we do in our jobs. Besides that, sometimes the best a job can do is provide for our, and perhaps our family’s, financial needs. And that’s a worthy goal. It is not yet, however, a calling.

Finally, when we live our yeses, we realize beauty in life (or the synonyms, excellence, true success, and happiness). I mean “realize” somewhat literally here—beauty becomes real for us.

Through listening for our calling we find the One who calls. I believe God is faithful in calling us. There, with God, will be creativity, beauty, excellence, happiness and true success.

These are the qualities that come together when we move through the progression of yes and thereby when we find the right time for yes.

From chapter 3 of The Time for Yes: Enjoying What's Best in Life, Work, and Love

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