At the beginning of Perelandra, Ransom has summoned the character Lewis. Ransom explains that he needs Lewis’s help, and that he is being sent to Perelandra. Ransom explains that the bent eldil of this planet (that is Satan) cannot travel beyond the moon, but that he can still indirectly spread evil, through fallen humans. As Ransom continues: “He [i.e., Satan] must be attempting Perelandra in some different way.” Lewis asks, “And where do you come in?” Ransom’s reply is that he’s been called there: “Well—simply I’ve been ordered there.” We see here the calling of Ransom and, in this episode, Paul and Courtney explore the idea of calling.
The word calling is closely related to the word vocation. In fact, in the Latin = vocare = “to call” which, according to the pastor and author Frederick Buechner “means the work a person is called to by God.” A calling assumes a caller. This caller is God. It is our job then to listen to God’s voice.
Theologically, the idea of calling is grounded in the doctrines of creation and providence. Here is Jamie K. A. Smith in his book You Are What You Love:
The doctrine of creation is not just a metaphysics—a statement of what the cosmos is. Rather, think of the biblical theology of creation as a manifesto, as marching orders, as a commission. More importantly, the biblical teaching on creation is a charge, a mission, a commission that sends us into God’s good but broken world with a calling. We can summarize this (com)mission in three verbs: image, unfold, and occupy .
The Theology of Work or Vocation
First, a robust theology of vocation must be grounded in the divine drama. In Genesis, we learn that humans alone image the divine being. We are kings and queens, priests and priestesses of this world that receive all things from God, steward all things as gift, and then re-gift them back to the Creator in joy and delight. We’ve been given real work to do—to spread God’s glory, to unleash the potentialities latent within this world, and cultivate the good, true, and beautiful for the flourishing of all.
Second, in order to discern God’s call, we must cultivate the spiritual discipline of listening. Most importantly, we need to listen to God’s voice. This means we need to learn silence. We need to go to God in prayer, in Scripture reading, in solitude. The divine voice speaks to us in a number of ways too. God is revealing. God is stirring. God is awakening. God also speaks to us as we consider the needs of the world. Jesus looked out at the crowd full of compassion, praying that God would bring others to shepherd the lost. Likewise, as we become more aware of the people and events around us, we’ll be more sensitive to the Spirit’s moving in and through us.
Finally, all lives matter. In fact, everything matters—because God lovingly creates, sustains, and guides you. All is from God. Nothing that is, nothing that exists, does so apart from God’s loving care. Your work matters. The deep longings of your heart—for meaning, purpose, and identity, matter. Your time matters. The people you see and serve daily matter.
- Christiana Hale, Deeper Heaven
- S. Lewis, Perelandra
- James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love
-  James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love, 172.