Book Review: The Call

“The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life” by Os Guiness

What is the ultimate meaning of life? Does each of us have a specific purpose for our lives? If so, how do we find it?

Many volumes have been written seeking to address these questions, but rarely does an author arrive at any meaningful or definitive answer (apart from Douglas Adams, who wrote that the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything was “42”). In The Call, Os Guiness seeks to help readers explore these questions for themselves in an attempt to learn how to fulfill their deepest desires.

Guiness argues that individuals do have a specific calling in their lives; a purpose for which they are created and in which they will find meaning and significance. But unlike so many self-help books that propose convoluted schemes to help one determine one’s own purpose, Guiness cuts to the chase from the very beginning. There can be no calling without a Caller. If you want to discover the purpose for your life, you must seek first the Creator who has given you that purpose.

By the author’s definition, “calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything  we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service”. As we seek Jesus Christ and his Kingdom, we discover that he makes claims on our lives that are holistic and exclusive. As Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” This means that there is nothing in our makeup, our character, or our gifting that is there by accident. We are created with a purpose, and that purpose is to bring glory to God. Each of us is uniquely designed to do so in a unique way.

Each chapter of this book focuses on a different aspect of calling. Reading it is a journey of self-discovery, revealing the path we must take to find and pursue our purpose, as well as the obstacles — both internal and external — which prevent us from reaching it. At every step, the focus is Christ. At the conclusion of each chapter is the directive to “Listen to Jesus of Nazareth; answer his call.” Though there is much in the way of practical wisdom in Guiness’ writing, he constantly reminds us that it is all for naught if we do not listen to the voice of the Caller.

It should be noted that this book was written for use as a daily devotional. The chapters are quite short, but anyone who picks this up and attempts to read large portions at a time is bound to miss out on the real value of the work. These are thoughts worthy of contemplation, and I found that I needed time to digest each chapter before going on. I also believe the book is particularly well-suited to group discussion. I read through The Call over a period of several months with a reading group, and the conversation and debate sparked by our discussion of the chapters was invaluable. Guiness also references several other works (though his complete lack of foot- or end-notes was quite frustrating) that I have since read, to my benefit.

This is a book worth checking out, but take your time with it! Buy it here.

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