Monday, 5 April 2010

A Musing on the Nature of Vocation

Perhaps it is true for many of us (might one even turn it into a general principle?) that very often we begin by desiring our vocation- it turns out that God has placed a desire for what He wills for us in our hearts from the very beginning- but that in the beginning we grasp after it for ourselves, try to take it in to our own hands, control it, make it ours. God must take it from us and make us give up all hope of ever attaining it before He can give it back to us as a true vocation, as something to which He calls us and for which He enables us, rather than something we do simply because we want to and in our own strength.

Thus Moses wants to aid his people and free them from Egyptian oppression. But "Who made you judge and prince over us?" ask the Hebrews he is trying to help. The answer, at the time the question is put, is himself. His vocation is indeed to be prince and judge over them, but it is God Who will call him to it. And when that call does come, Moses has given up any hope or expectation of doing what once he attempted when he saw one Hebrew in trouble. But there was no wrong in his desire, only in the way he sought it. He will indeed be prince and judge, and he will free his people, but not by laying hands on Egyptians. Instead he will become the very mouthpiece of God.

Likewise, in a way, with Peter. At the Supper, he enthusiastically proclaims, "I would lay down my life for You." So he shall, but not like this, for he is speaking from his own strength, and he is not nearly so strong as he thinks. It is only after his great fall, at the very time when faithfulness was most crucial, that he is humbled (indeed, humiliated) enough for Christ to give him his vocation again- in a sense, for the first time (Christ's words to him in Matthew 16 are all in the future tense)- and foretell to him his martyrdom. For martyrdom , like vocation, is a gift which one must receive rather than take. Peter will undergo it, exactly as he said he would at the Supper, but he will do so in union with Chist and not otherwise.

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