“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Stepping out from the woods into a clearing, I squinted in the radiant sun and smiled at God’s creation teeming around me. It was my first day of retreat, and summer was unfolding with great fervor. All of my senses delighted in the chorus of bird calls, brilliant flowers, blue skies, tall grass, delicate butterflies, towering trees lush with green leaves, and even the buzz of swarming insects. As I walked, I felt like I was in the midst of a great symphony of abundant life. My heart was overcome with joy, and a wondrous reminder surfaced: This flourishing is what God wants for each and every one of us.
Vocational discernment is about finding our path of abundant life, and paying attention to how we experience the fullness of life can help us. When do you feel most alive? What kind of ministry makes your heart buzz with joy and purpose? What kind of relationships delight you and allow your deepest values to flourish? When you take an honest look into your future, where do you see blue-sky possibilities for fruitfulness? What is the symphony with which you see yourself making music? On the contrary, is there anything to which you’re giving energy that isn’t truly life-giving? Where and how are you lacking and desiring more abundant life? Exploring such questions can help us gradually discover God’s call.
Discernment takes courage, because this journey to life necessarily includes death. We may have to let go of expectations we once had. We may have to choose between several holy, attractive options. We may be misunderstood by loved ones. We surely will wrestle with fears, doubts, and resistance. But even when discernment is scary, confusing, or even painful, we can take comfort in remembering that our endlessly good, loving, trustworthy God desires our flourishing. What looks like loss to us now may become life in ways beyond our imagination.
Jesus came so that all might have abundant life. As followers of Jesus, we both receive and share that gift. When we embrace God’s life-giving dreams for us, we become vessels of abundant life for building the reign of God. Simply put, God’s call leads to life. If this is true, and it is, then discernment is the best gift you can give yourself and the world.