Calling and vocation

Amanda MacQuarrie, minister of Bo’Ness Old Parish Church, writes about calling and vocation, the complicated experience of feeling led to do something, with all the doubt, excitement, and longing that is bundled up with it.


  • The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’

    John 1:43-48
  • Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

    At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lordhad not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

    Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’

    1 Samuel 3:1-10
  • As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

    ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

    John 15: 9-17
  • O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
    You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
    You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
    Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.
    You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it.
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
    If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
    even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
    If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night’,
    even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

    Psalm 139: 1-15
  • You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    that I know very well.
    My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
    In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.
    How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
    I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
    I come to the end—I am still with you.

    Psalm 139: 15-18


  • You saw me first!

    You saw me first!

    Saw me and knew me!

    Willed me to come, even before I saw you, even before I knew you, even before my life had turned around,

    You had a plan for me and you invited me to journey with you.

    My mind says whoa! Slow down a minute. But my heart leaps within me and shouts yes!

    If only my head weren’t so doubtful, cautious, sensible…

    Imagine though,

    One who saw you, all of you.

    And summed you up even before you saw him;

    Knew the measure of you inside and out; saw the thoughts in your head, the hurts you keep hidden, the longings in your heart.

    Saw them and counted them along with the number of hairs on your head…

    Even before you had thought to say hello!

    What would you say to Him?

    What would you do as He walked towards you?

    Picture him now,

    Coming towards you,

    Sitting beside you…

    Turn to him and tell him your thoughts…

    He doesn’t need big words, or even full sentences…

  • Open my ears

    Lord, thank you that you see me, care about me, love me, hear me.

    Open my ears to hear your call,

    Open my eyes to see where you lead,

    And give me the courage to follow.

  • You called and I heard

    You called and I heard.

    And the word heard is Love.

    You loved me first, and so now…

    If I follow where you lead, then I too must love, as you have loved me – love without counting the cost.

    But what does that mean?

    What does that look like in life today? In my life today?

    I love my family, my friends, my neighbours. I give to the foodbank, I support charities…

    But is that it, or does it mean more?

    To lay down my life, my plans?

    And to follow you…

    To serve…

    And not just to give what is safe, comfortable, affordable…

    But to offer everything.

    To give even from those areas of my life where there isn’t much left in the tank, or where I guard what there is for myself?

    To love those who hurt me?

    To give more of my time… not just in passing, but to see, as you see…

    And to be as you are – present.

    With. Alongside. Dwelling in and among. Not off on my own agenda, but being present to yours…

  • Following your call is hard


    Following your call is hard.

    Sometimes you lead us where we find it hard to go,

    And sometimes you ask us to let go of the things that we hold most tightly to.

    Give me the courage that I need today to trust you,

    To enable me to loosen my grip, even just a little, on my life.

    And to be open to where you are leading me.



​One of the early stages in bereavement is the strange feeling of denial that seems to haunt many of us. How are you feeling a friend asks ? You... read more


​I’ve talked to hundreds of bereaved people in my life, I guess it’s my job as a pastor. You know its a great privilege to be brought into a family... read more

Pain and Guilt

​There is no real order to all these feelings I’m talking about. They come and go and stay and then depart, Only to return another day. Then the... read more


​Another stage of grief is anger. You should be aware of this. Anger manifests itself in different ways. It’s not always expressed through shouting... read more