The development of a sense of call and the setting of goals as I have talked about over the last couple of weeks can sound like a lot of hard work. This sounds like work that is confining and restricting to many people who feel that freedom means having no restrictions, no commitments that call us into tomorrow, no boundaries that restrict how we spend the present day.
In fact I have found it to be the exact opposite. When we set boundaries, we find the freedom of saying no to good ideas that are not part of God’s call on our life. When we know our limitations, we learn to live more fully in the present moment, confident that we can trust God for each step of our journey.
Let me explain. Off the east coast of England, is the island of Lindisfarne, where there was once a thriving community of Celtic monks. To get to the island one must cross a causeway which is only navigable at low tide. Markers line the causeway to warn travellers of the depth of the water, letting them know whether or not it is safe to travel.
That is what I think the setting of goals should be like. Our goals are not hoped for achievements that can place heavy burdens on our backs when we don’t accomplish then in the expected time or way. Goals are markers meant to tell us that we are still on the right path and the way ahead is still safe to travel.
Part of what this type of process encourages is a more leisurely way of life. When the causeway is covered we stop. We wait, we pause and perhaps we set new goals.
As Michael Casey says in Strangers to the City:
Leisure is not idleness or pursuit of recreational activities. It is above all being attentive to the present moment, open to all its implications, living it to the full. (28).
Casey goes on to explain:
Attentiveness is acquired by most people through a habit of reflectiveness – learning to step back from experience to ponder its meaning. (31).
I have thought a lot about this over the last week. Living into our sense of call, and establishing clear goals for every area of our life, requires times of attentive reflection. Relaxing into each moment and living fully into all it has to offer is only really possible when we are confident of the destination towards which we are travelling.
These kinds of goals liberate us because they give us room to breathe. They give us time for ourselves, for each other, and for god. They give us time to encourage, to support, to step back and discern. They give us time to evaluate the effectiveness of our actions and the realism of our goals.
Perhaps we need to rethink how we live. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of who God calls us to be and what God calls us to do. Perhaps God is guiding us in new ways. God wants to free all of us from the tyranny of the urgent and the burden of busyness. Effective goals and a sense of call help us to do just that.
This post is the last in a series on Christian call and goal setting
Check out the other posts in this series:
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