In the summer of 1981, at Glorieta, New Mexico, Youth Camp, I was submerged in a sea of teenage hormones, hoping against all hope to be noticed by a boy, trying to wedge myself in with the populars. Yet somehow a lot of great things happened that week. I say this because a few weeks later I was standing before my home church, announcing that I was surrendering to God’s call on my life. I didn’t know what the call was exactly, but I knew God was calling me to something, and I would wait for it to be revealed.
How we measure time has an interesting way of changing. As kids waiting for Christmas morning—even one day—could not be more agonizing. Teenagers wait impatiently to leave home to gain independence. I recall thinking in January that May could not get here soon enough. As a parent waiting for a baby to arrive, nine months is but a flash of lightning and boom, you’re a mother. We spend our lives waiting, and God keeps calling.
God called me to take a stand against teenage drinking when others did not. God called me to a church family that has loved and nurtured me. God called me to be a wife and a mother of three. God called me to use my gifts when the door was opened. God called me to listen to the voices of wisdom placed in my path. I have to admit that these callings weren’t difficult to hear. I didn’t toss and turn night after night, wondering if this was the voice of God or something that I conjured up. I’m truly thankful and humbled by God’s hand on my life.
Some thirty years after I heard God’s call, I realize my early years of waiting for something to be revealed has, in fact, continuously been revealed through my journey. My church defines discipleship as a life-long journey towards becoming like Jesus. Listening for God’s call is not a one-time mountain-top experience with the clouds rolling away, an eagle soaring overhead as the angels sing. It is a life-long journey. A journey of seeking and surrender. Over and over again.
I am a little obsessed with the music of singer/songwriters All Sons and Daughters. Their song, “Called Me Higher,” is about our complacency. We sit and wait in our states of comfort. We aren’t listening with careful thought and intentionality. Even if we are living fully right in the middle of God’s calling for us, we are called to go higher and deeper still. Sometimes that’s pretty overwhelming. But it’s the journey. It’s a shared journey with the one who has called. God’s radical love for me continues to shape me and my calling. Again, I’m thankful and humbled.
I work with men who have seminary and doctoral degrees. I did not go to seminary, and sometimes I feel a little simple minded and intimidated. The years I could have spent in seminary, I was knee deep in the early years of motherhood, wiping bottoms and noses. That was my calling then. In this season of my life, my calling is to be a worship minister, and I have the awesome privilege of serving God and my church in this position. As the journey continues and as God continues to call, I pray God will change me from the inside, over and over again.
Suzanne Cain is the minister of worship arts at Second Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. She and her husband, Randy, have three children.