Tuning My Ears to God’s Call

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

J_LeahAs an earnest twenty-year-old I sat outside the University of Arizona library and held my vocational future up to the heavens like a sacrificial calf.

And I heard a voice (not audibly, but in a deep and centred part of myself) inviting, beckoning, calling me to go on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, a university ministry known for their creative and persistent proclamation of God’s love for all people.

This “call” didn’t come totally out of the blue, I had been involved with this particular campus ministry for the previous three years and had grown spiritually within the fold of this devout and disciplined group. Nevertheless, my heart sank right into my toes.

Despite the respect I had for the campus chaplains who had mentored me, this was not what I wanted to do. Firstly, because I wanted to go feed hungry people in Africa. Secondly, because I wasn’t the “crusading” type.

But after three pretty miraculous confirmations, I packed my bags and headed off to the University of Idaho to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission of making disciples of all nations.

And it was good. I spoke about God’s love in dormitories and sororities, heard women’s tear-filled longings for friendship, forgiveness and community in the Student Union and helped lead mission trips all over the world.

Though I happily marched in the campus ministry parade, I was a bit of an anomaly amongst my fellow campus chaplains. I wore Birkenstocks (before it was cool), filled my mudroom with mountains of recyclable bottles, cans and newspapers (which I drove 20 miles to turn in because there was no recycling center in my town, let alone curb side pick up) and had a love for the natural world that made me seem a bit suspect and “fringy” to those for whom the spiritual realm was the main thing that mattered.

It might come as no surprise, therefore, that six years into my evangelistic chaplaincy work I started to feel restless, as though I had overstayed my welcome at a party, and like I wanted to do something a bit more justice-oriented.

I asked God for direction. I prayed. I even fasted for three whole days. I walked into the wheat fields, held my hands back up to the sky and asked the wind of the Spirit to blow me like a weather vane to my true north. But, nothing—not even a puff of direction.

So I did what I wanted—I went to graduate school to study theology at Regent College in Vancouver, BC.

And I felt like I had come home. If I could have, I would have pulled up an armchair at the hearth of that school and stayed forever. It was here that my innate love for creation and heart for the marginalized found a resonance in the theology being taught: the in-breaking of the Kingdom and God’s work of reconciliation of “all things” through Christ (Colossians 1).

At Regent I learned about A Rocha, a Christian environmental centre that began on the coast of Portugal nearly 20 years earlier. (Imagine the Sierra Club, meets a youth hostel, and ground the whole thing in Christian community, and you have a flavour of the thing.)

When I learned about their ministry of creation care and community building I felt like all the strands of my life—strands of love of creation, love of community, and a heart for justice—were being knit together. And not only the strands of my life, but those of my new husband, Markku’s life as well.

From our training in ecology and entrepreneurial leadership and campus ministry and education, to our love for other cultures and community, the work of A Rocha was like a pair of old jeans we stepped into and found that they fit perfectly.

Even so, birthing A Rocha in Canada felt like the labour it was. There were funds to raise, an Environmental Centre to set up, countless guests and interns to welcome. We shed many a tear of frustration.

But more often, our eyes filled with tears of gratitude, especially as we watched the humble, but deeply good work of earth keeping unfolding all around us, whether that looked like restoring a salmon stream or opening the eyes of a child to the beauty of creation, or sitting with a struggling intern.

Thirteen years later the tears of gratitude continue as A Rocha’s work in Canada has grown into the wonderful, multifaceted thing that it has become. And those strands of biblical justice, knit into my life through childhood and at Regent College, find expression as the economically marginalized are welcomed and fed from our organic gardens, and as young scientists learn to connect their passion for studying fish or frogs or fungi to their faith in a God who loves ALL of creation.

My journey in hearing God’s call has led me to believe that when trying to discern God’s direction, it’s helpful to take a step back and refocus on the wonderful vocational tapestry God has been weaving with the strands of your life already.

It will look like what you’re good at and what the world needs.

__________________

smaller version of leahAbout Leah:

Leah Kostamo is the author of Planted: a Story of Creation, Calling and Community, a book Eugene H. Peterson called “remarkable” and Margaret Atwood called “clear-sighted and humorous.” She likes to read (and write) wise and winsome stories that inspire people to be the change they want to see in the world. She can be found online at leahkostamo.com and @leahkostamo. She ministers with the Christian conservation organization, A Rocha.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Leah Kostamo
Leah Kostamo is the author of Planted: a Story of Creation, Calling and Community, a book Eugene H. Peterson called “remarkable” and Margaret Atwood called “clear-sighted and humorous.” She likes to read (and write) wise and winsome stories that inspire people to be the change they want to see in the world. She can be found online leahkostamo.com and @leahkostamo. She ministers with the Christian conservation organization, A Rocha.
Leah Kostamo
Leah Kostamo
Leah Kostamo

Latest posts by Leah Kostamo (see all)