Discovering what the hope of your calling actually is

Fifteen years ago, I started this blog on a whim. I wasn't really sure what I'd do with it, and I certainly didn't think I'd be here, fifteen years later, still writing about hope! 

I took the name "Hope Is Calling" from the verse that is still, 15 years later, my favorite.

[I pray that] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the boundless greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.
- Eph 1:17-19

I still pray that God will give me a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 

I still pray that He would open the eyes of my heart to know the hope of His calling.

I still ask Him to show me the riches of the glory of His inheritance and the boundless greatness of His power toward me. 

And over the years, I cannot count the number of other people I've crossed paths with who are also experiencing their lives being continually transformed... and who also count this verse as one of their favorites. 

Fifteen years ago, when I started this blog, I wrote that the most intriguing part of this verse was 'the hope of His calling.' I wrote this:

 "When that verse became my favorite, it was for other parts of the verse, such as "open the eyes of your heart" and "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" and "riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." I didn't get the 'hope of His calling' part. I couldn't figure out what it meant, exactly. But during the last two years, I have slowly come to think of the hope of God's calling as summing up the fullness and richness and wonder of everything that we receive of God's love when we respond to God's calling in our life."

In the fifteen years since, I have still, quite frequently, felt like there was "something more" to that phrase, "the hope of His calling." I've asked many times for God to show me what else was hidden there. 

He finally showed me a few weeks ago. 😀

At the time, I was reading this passage in Romans 8:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 

The first and last verses in that passage are some of the most often-quoted verses in churches, but the middle two are often forgotten, even though they are pivotal! 

You see, verse 28 ends with "to those who are called according to His purpose," so verse 29 goes on to declare what God's purpose actually is. It's saying, "This is His goal for the end of the story. This is why He uses everything for good in your life... because He is not content for Jesus to be His only child. He's not content to have Jesus be the only one who walked like Jesus walked. His purpose is for there to be many brothers and sisters who also walk like Jesus did! 

Verses 29 and 30 sum up the story. Our story. Take a look at this four-part story:

Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined...
and these whom He predestined, He also called;
and these whom He called, He also justified;
and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

First, He predestined us. What that means is that since God exists outside of time, He knew the entire story of our lives before time even began. We cannot get away from what He knows will happen -- not because we don't have free will to make choices, but because He already knows what our choices will be, and what choices other people will make that affect us, and the next choices we'll make in response, and so forth. And He doesn't waste that knowledge. He has planned - predestined - things that He will show us and do for us at thousands of pivotal moments along the way so that He can bring us to that end goal that He desires. That is where this verse's story begins, with that predestination outside of time. 

The second part of the story is when He calls us. This is when He steps inside the Timeline of our story, and we hear His call to follow Him. The gospels recount the stories of when Jesus called a number of the disciples, and the Bible also recounts the moment when Saul was called, when Isaiah and Jeremiah were called, when Moses was called, and many others. Each of us also had a moment in our lives when we first heard His call. Many times, it took us a while to identify what that call actually was and then make the decision to answer it, but the call was there, inside of our life's timeline!

When we answer the call, He justifies us. That means that He takes the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, and God applies it to our account. If we compare it to an accountant who is doing the books for a company, they're looking at this big balance that is on the books for Katie, that I owe. But then there's also this absolutely perfect payment that Jesus made. When I answered God's call, He said, "Okay, that payment is now credited to Katie's account," and when that credit was written down, the balance of my debt became zero. It was justified. Perfectly balanced. 

The final part of the story is that He glorifies us. This is perhaps the hardest part to comprehend, because God - telling the story from His viewpoint outside of time - is telling it in past tense and says that I am glorified! The reality is that this is a continuation of His choice to justify me. For just as He has credited Jesus's death on the cross to my account to pay my debt, so also He has credited the glory of Jesus's triumph over death when He rose again to my account! I'm stuck inside this Timeline of my life where it's hard to see it, but if I believe He cannot lie and His words are true, then this is true as well! 

And that brings me back to my favorite verse and the hope of His calling. 

Because in that four-part timeline, there is only one part that we humans can easily grab a hold of. The call.

The predestination happens before time began. We weren't there, and we didn't know when it happened. 

The justification is something that we cannot possibly understand unless He gives us the revelation to understand it. 

The glorification is the end of the story - where He's taking us. And in the many moments when we're looking for hope, that glorious end of the story doesn't feel real to us...which is why we're looking for hope. 

But the calling... that's the part we know. That is the point in the four-part story that is placed into our hands. 

The hope of His calling is the knowledge and revelation that this calling that we hear is part of this four-part process and story

It's not a call that stands on its own. 

If you hear Him calling you, then you can rest assured that He predestined you before time began... otherwise you'd never hear Him calling you!  Romans 8:30 assures you that the calling IS a result of His predestination!

And then, if you answer the call, then you can know what part three and part four are also! He justifies you, and He glorifies you! It doesn't really matter that our natural mind has a hard time wrapping itself around how we could be so full of glory that we become glorified. This verse assures us that if indeed we have heard the call, then being justified and glorified IS where the story is going! 

This is the hope of His calling.

The hope is found in the knowledge that this calling that we hear means so much more

The hope is found in the assurance that we hear the call and answer the call by giving our lives to Him, but He does everything else.  You notice that the verse doesn't say, "Those whom He calls must figure out how to justify themselves and work hard enough that eventually they'll become glorious because of how perfect they've become." Nope. Those whom He called, He justified, and those whom He justified, He glorified. He does it. All of Romans 8 reiterates this over and over again.
 

Perhaps the most perfect reminder in all of it is how verse 31 ends. If God is for us, who can be against us? Even our own self no longer counts against us. 

All we have to do is answer the call and give ourselves to Him, for Him to do His amazing work. All we have to do is repeatedly choose not to take our lives back. To stay fully surrendered. And He'll do the rest! 


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