Janus Had It Wrong

Janus is the two-faced Roman god of doorways and gates, and often marks periods of transition. He represented the middle ground between dualities, as a doorway marks the point at which the indoors meets the outdoors. This encompasses more abstract dualities as well: life on one side, death on the other; war on the one hand, and peace on the other; beginnings and ends; past and future, with each of Janus’ faces pointed towards an opposite end of the spectrum. It is why the Romans named the first month of their calendar January, signifying the end of one year and the dawning of a new one. The problem with having an eye firmly on the past, and the other prophetically peeled toward the future, is you miss what’s happening right where you are now. 

“Our callings in life are better found in the present than the future,” explains Rev. Dr. Jeff Leininger in discussing his book, Callings for Life: God’s Plan, Your Purpose. “Most of the things that you are asked to do, or that God has given you, are happening right now.” The past can be important in informing who we are and what we do, and it is good and proper to plan responsibly for the future, but an extraordinary amount of focus on either end can distract you from where you are needed right now. 

“The false god of the past is looking back and being crippled by the past with shame, guilt, or regret…And the other side, the Janus face is looking forward to the future with either fear or anxiety, always thinking ‘What’s next? What’s the big thing I have to do in the future?” 

The other misconception? That our callings have to be big, life-changing singular things. “Our callings are usually found in the ordinary rather than the dramatic. Although my calling as a pastor is a godly thing and a sacred thing, a mother or father changing diapers is not only important and useful, it’s equally sacred. Most of what we do is not the extraordinary. Most of the people who end up doing extraordinary things just started out being faithful in their everyday, ordinary things that they were called to do, and then God did something else.”

Today is what matters most. As a baptized child of God, your job is to serve your neighbor today, in all of the little wonderful ways God has called you to do so. Recognize God at work while you change your fiftieth diaper for the day, or when you complete that report your boss needed, or help a customer find the exact item they needed. Don’t get caught up in the Janus-inspired cycle of looking everywhere else for your purpose, neglecting what is right in front of you. 

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 

-Ecclesiastes 5:18

This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, Rev. Ross Engel, Tyler the Intern, and guest Rev. Dr. Jeff Leininger as they duke it out over how cheap you’re allowed to be, what it means to have callings, why Jeff doesn’t want to go on vacation with anyone from Ringside, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “God’s Plan for You with Guest Jeff Leininger”

Check out “Callings for Life: God’s Plan, Your Purpose” on Amazon or wherever books are sold.

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