You know the saying: "There's a first time for everything."
But we all have caveats in our minds; things we just know we won't ever do. It's unsettling, to say the least, when that list of caveats loses a bullet point.
This month, for the first time in my life, I did not accept a calling. (I know--those of you who know me well are as shocked by that as I am. This is not something I take lightly.)
The rest of the story:
I was extended a new calling three Sundays ago; the first Sunday we were back from vacation. It came as a complete surprise. Shockingly so. I usually have advance warning from the Spirit when I'm nearly done with a calling, and a release has never come as such a shock before. Usually I know my time in that calling is complete, or very close to it. While I have been the Primary pianist for a couple of years now, no spiritual inkling of a change had come. The whole interview still hangs in my mind surrounded by a fog of confusion and awkward surprise. When confronted with the new call, I did what I have made it my practice to do and accepted the new calling. Despite the feeling of bewilderment. The Holy Spirit comforted me during the prayer we closed the interview with, so I thought I had done the right thing.
Later that day, though, whenever I thought about the new calling, nausea curled in my gut. I've only ever felt that ill about a decision once before, back in college, and when I finally listened to the prompting, faced the situation, and corrected it, I found my initial (innocent, well-intentioned) decision had serious, serious consequences in someone else's life. I'm not about to flirt with ignoring that kind of communication from the Holy Ghost ever again.
After hours of rather nauseated deliberation, I called the counselor in the bishopric who extended the call, and let him know I needed to retract my acceptance while I pondered and prayed over it. After that point the nausea didn't return. And for another full day, I pondered and prayed and counseled with Vern. I didn't want to refuse . . . that's not the way I roll. I contribute to the church. I love to serve. Anyone who knows me in any depth knows that well. And I doubly love to use any talents or abilities the Lord has given me in that capacity. But the answer still came I was not to accept that calling. Which, while clear, truly surprised me.
Once I accepted the prompting and made the decision, blessed peace came. The peace that only comes when I've chosen to live in harmony with the Lord's will. And that same peace always returns to ratify my decision each and every time my thoughts have dwelt on it since.
On Monday evening, I made the phone call. After quite a round of phone tag, I was able to let the counselor know the answer I had been given. (I didn't feel this was the kind of thing to leave in a voicemail.) I was pretty sure they had already called my replacement during our weeks-long absence visiting family, so I knew refusing the calling didn't mean I would stay Primary pianist. But I couldn't accept the new calling. It simply wasn't the right thing to do.
As for why I wasn't to accept . . . a reason of that sort wasn't part of my answer. But honestly, I trust my God. I know who He is, and His love never fails. I'm waiting to see what happens next. And I'm praying fervently that the next calling extended to me is one God wants me to accept.