Aug 14, 2015

"How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord" (Until It Isn't)

By Cheryl Magness

As I write these words, I am preparing to send my son off  to his first year of grad school and my daughter to her second year of college. Having gone through this process of farewell a few times now, I can attest  that it does get easier. Yes, it hurts like anything, but it is also one of the most amazing times in the life of a parent and child.

We tend to think of vocation as this set, well-defined thing. We are sisters, daughters, mothers, and wives. If we extend the circle a little more, we are friends, church members, neighbors, citizens, and human beings. In all of these vocations, we are given certain roles to play and certain work to do. This is a wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father by which he provides order to our days. It is no wonder that we struggle when our vocations—these patterns of thinking and acting that have so defined us and directed our steps--change.

Sometimes the changes can seem downright absurd. We bear children only to immediately start the process of preparing them to one day leave our care. Our own parents go from being people who take care of us to people who need us to take care of them. In our marriages we find that the breathless fun of early courtship is nudged aside by trials that leave us feeling so used up we wonder if we even remember what it means to have fun. The siblings we used to be so close to become people we are lucky to see once a year. And sometimes it seems like there is no such thing as a lifelong friend. Is there anything that stays the same?

You know the answer. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). While everything and everyone else changes, He does not. And in Him we find that all those other changes don’t necessarily have to be occasions of loss and mourning and grief but instead can be opportunities for us to grow in appreciation of His grace. We say goodbye to our babies only to watch some amazing new adults take their places. In caring for our aging parents we are blessed by the opportunity to serve. The suspense and excitement of early infatuation is replaced by a relationship built on respect, shared sacrifice and devotion. And as life takes us in various directions and some familiar faces disappear from the landscape, we find that they are replaced by others who turn out to be just the ones we needed at that moment.

Whatever change you are facing this week, or month, or year, you can know that the Lord your God does not change. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). The seasons of our lives can be confusing, especially as we are making the transition from one to the next, but each season has its particular beauty. As we understandably mourn the fading of the lush green of summer, let us look with anticipation to autumn’s multicolored glory and winter’s quiet simplicity. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Thank you, Jesus, for them all.


Cheryl is the sister of ten, daughter of two, mother of three, and wife of one. She was an English teacher in a past life but these days freelances as a writer and musician. She blogs at A Round Unvarnish'd Tale and has also been published by The FederalistAmerican ThinkerOnFaith, and in a forthcoming issue ofTouchstone magazine. Cheryl lives in Oklahoma with her husband, a Lutheran cantor, and their three children.

Image: "Lady George Darwin" by Cecelia Beaux, 1889


  1. Beautiful post. It makes me want to hold my daughter so much closer, remembering that one day the way we live out our vocations with each other will change, but it's so comforting to remember that there is One who is constant even through those changes.

  2. Thank you! My 3-year-old decided to start potty-training, and all of a sudden I'm faced with the possibility that, unless I should have another child, I may be done with the diaper thing forever, and that is weirdly making me sad, not relieved. So this post is precisely what I needed today. Thank you again.


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