Brennan Manning, in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel has a chapter called “The Second Call". Essentially it is when a Christian goes through an event that can leave them alone, confused and unsure of their faith. He calls it the second call, and he proposes that it's an invitation to reflect on our nature and quality of our faith and truly accept what being in God’s love brings us.
The past year, in my mind, has been my second call. I won’t bore you with the details but it started last March. I was going through something and when I joined Element last October, I really began my reflection of my second call and began to question everything in my life thus far. I hadn’t been to church in years and I was letting the grind of my (now unimportant) problems affect my behavior and relationships. I thrived in the misery and hopelessness of the situation and let it dictate everything. It was beginning to work its way into defining my whole being.
That’s when my second call started. God wasn’t just a deity that I accepted when I was a child. He forced himself through the murk and mire through so many different resources and unexpected places in my life. What He had been doing was forcing me to look full in the face of what it really means to be a Christian and more importantly to have a relationship with Him. These different resources, including Element, ultimately changed not only my daily life but also help me grow as a person, friend, son, brother and Christian. Praying to God wasn’t just an exercise—it became a conversation, which I think is critical in being a Christian. This by no means implies that I am done growing… it means that I have just started. But pausing on it brought me to another verse, one that in my naïveté and unseasoned Christian walk, I didn't really understand. I am sure I don’t fully understand it even now, but I do have a grasp of the concept—a fact that I was sorely lacking before.
Psalms 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will grant the desires of your heart."
I used to quote that verse as a talisman or some sort of prayer and that if I did it, things would just magically fall into place. How wrong and naïve was I? That’s all changed this past calendar year. This verse is how one succeeds after the “second call” has been made.
I believe that because after things happened and I began my "second call", all I could do and did was just delight myself in God. He kept putting people and resources in my way and before I knew it, things were picking up steam and my life had done a complete 180-degree turn. I just focused on that, things began to pick up, and He has answered my desires in ways that I couldn't imagine.
I had a plan on what I wanted and it was more like wish list than a five-year plan. But slowly over the course of a year, God has steadily provided an answer to each of those needs and set me on a path that is better than I could have picked to be quite honest.
The second call and hope go hand in hand together. Because the second call proves that hope is the key to succeed. When I came to Element, I felt hopeless about many things throughout my life. I didn't know what to do. I "hoped and “prayed” but at the end of the day, it wasn't getting anywhere because it wasn’t done the right way. It was just lip service. I wanted my desires answered but I was unwilling to “delight” in Him, the One who would answer them.
The best way to hope is to delight in God. He unconditionally loves us so He will grant the desires of our heart, the true desires, and not just some wish list. At the end of it all, my true desires were to be changed, healthier, happier and not feel alone but I didn't put it in the list, I had specific things I wanted that I didn't know how to get. He already gave the directions, "delight in Him." I think that's how God wants us to hope. God answered the true desires of my heart and never faltered in loving me and guiding me. I think Manning got it right. The second call asks us to question our faith and really discover if we can hack it but it also transforms us if we are willing to answer it.
In hindsight, I am grateful that God put me through the things I went through and my “second call” because doing it the old way wasn’t as much fun.