My Savior Calling-A Guest Post by Louise Byrd

This week's post is written by Louise Byrd, a HERITAGE member, guest preacher, accomplished church musician and a graduate--most recently--of the McAfee School of Theology. You can find more of Louise's writing at ThoughtWeavings

I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
“Take thy cross and follow, follow Me.”

Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
Where He leads me I will follow,
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way. 

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about my calling. I am a minister in transition – meaning that I am not serving on a church staff at the moment. Because I seem to have spent so much time “in transition,” it feels natural to question my calling. The hymnals that I grew up with don’t offer all the verses to this hymn – and that may be a shame. Which ones do you know?

“I’ll go with him through the waters” – why do the Baptists leave this one out?

“I’ll go with him through the garden” – I don’t think we realize exactly which garden – maybe we’re thinking Bellingrath Gardens?

“I’ll go with him to dark Calv’ry” – Baptists leave this out too – we get crucified enough but for the wrong reasons.

“I’ll go with him to the judgment” – Really? We sing it – maybe we’re eager to watch while others are being judged, to see if God gets it right.

“He will give me grace and glory” – this is probably our favorite verse.

These verses do give a broad outline–perhaps a 19th century view–of the Christian life. Certainly they hit the highlights of Jesus’ life. But when we hear the Savior calling, what does it mean? What does it mean to me? What is my calling? Where is the Savior calling me?

We sing this hymn as a hymn of invitation – in a Baptist church, the “Invitational Hymn” is the time during the worship service when people publicly affirm their faith in Christ. But this hymn also holds a deeper invitation – God’s self, through Christ, invites us on this journey. Taking the first step is the easiest part, in some ways. Many never get much farther on the journey.

What does it mean to follow where the Savior leads? What does it mean for me? I have been a member of the paid church staff. I have also been a member of the congregation. Either way, I tend to do similar things. I sing in the choir, or I lead the choir. I teach children’s choirs. I fill in on the piano or organ. I teach or attend a Sunday School class. I participate in Wednesday night table fellowship.

I say that Worship is my “thing.” It is the area of – might as well say it – theology that most intrigues me. Why do we worship? How do we worship? Whom do we worship? How do I fit into that conversation? How do I follow my calling in the area of worship?

What about other areas of need? Dr. David Gushee once challenged a group of students at McAfee School of Theology to choose one ethical issue to become their cause of choice. There are so many injustices in our world, no one person can address them all. Choose one. So, that day, I chose hunger. How do I follow my calling in the area of hunger justice issues? I have in the past volunteered in food ministries. I wrote a sermon for class on hunger. What can I do now?

When I journal privately, I tend to ask precisely this kind of (almost) rhetorical question. I find that living out the answers is difficult. The even-more challenging thing is to live into the questions.

Who is calling? My Savior.

Where is my Savior calling? Can I hear my Savior calling? Will I go with him? Through the waters, through the garden, to dark Calvary? Will he give me grace and glory? Will I go with him, with him, all the way?