How Long is the Call?

I have met many individual missionaries that come home from the mission field because God crossed the door. However, they feel like and are often received home as failures. But is this true? Did you fail in your calling or did you simply misunderstand your calling? When talking about calling there are two areas of classification that needs to be made:

1) General Calling

The general call of God is a lifetime commitment. This is the Great Commission call upon every Christians life. We are called to go and share the Gospel with everyone we meet no matter our physical location here on earth. We are called to be involved in the Great Commission without exception. The challenging question that we need to face is are we being faithful to that calling?

2) Specific Calling

Now this is the area that most missionaries get tripped up on. I had a good friend that was called to Africa. Before he left he was fully convinced that he was going to grow old and die in Africa. He believed that this was a lifetime calling. However, after about 2 years he started feeling the Lord impress upon his heart that he was to return home. He wrestled with this for the next two years and was unwilling to yield because he was convicted that he was called for the rest of his life to Africa. Now that is commendable commitment but ended up causing a lot of confusion and heartache. He even became so stubborn in his commitment to his calling that he plugged his ears to the Lord voice. In this context, he was not a failure he just misunderstood the initial calling or, like people normally do, he completely blew it up into something it was never intended to be.

It is possible that the call to go to the mission field is a life-long call but I don’t know if we can fully know that at the start. He might be calling you to a life-long missionary call but He might changed the location a few times along the way. We should learn to hold our callings with an open hand recognizing that we are a pawn and He is free to move us to wherever He wants whenever He wants. He is the Lord and I am not. You should hold your specific calling in an open hand and always be willing to received new information and clarification about it. God often gives us our calling in pieces that we can handle because if He revealed the full reality we would probably never go. So let Him give it to you piece by piece and let each clarification be carried with the same weight as the initial calling.