Many jobs hang in the balance in these trying times. We may think the Coronavirus has knocked us off our vocational pursuits, but that would not be so…
I tell the story of my journey of faith from five years old to mid-adulthood—when I said “I do” to Jesus—in my book, Encourage to Faith. It is now a slew of years later, I have long ago accepted Jesus as Savior, and the world thinks it is not done with me yet. “We’re still here,” it says, “so get your tail back here and give us more of your soul so we can give you more of our kind of good times. Deal?”
But how can I? Five year old me still remembers what it was like to not know God. I can’t possibly, now, knowing what I know, go back the way I came, not after what God did for me: world-weary skeptic early, finally saved at thirty-six, later led deep and away into a vocational ministry of sharing Christ with others to boot. Giving my life to God has been the only thing that ever made sense, fully. Getting away from who God made me to be, or at least has shown me I will become, cannot, will not, be an option. Good times? Devil be gone! And you be gone too, flesh—my un-abiding parts. And while I’m at it, world, you can take a flying leap!
I talk bravely, don’t I? Till I hesitate long enough to question my vocational motives: Why continue seeking out people to share what God has shown me when I can’t even follow it myself? Why teach them not to waste their life on vain pursuits, when I waste big bunches on mine? Why do they ever come to hear such a one as me? But my doubts and insecurities know their place. These people are contented, dissatisfied, coping, wanting more, miserable and happy on a spectrum—same as me. And though they’re successful in their corner of life, their thousand games of distraction and pleasure-seeking satisfy no more. In other words, they’re equal parts well-adjusted and struggling; not a single one of them has it all together—again, same as me. Then I tell them what they should do anyway.
I, of course, have the option of walking away from this vocation. Lord knows I’ve tried. Then He just brings me back and says “Son, where’re you going? What’s this about this time?” Though He already knows, and just says this to remind me about those first thirty-six years again, till I get back to the only sensible path, the yielding will, the better way.
I share all this with men mostly, because I’m one of them. Because our particular versions of where we willfully indulge and have our wrong appetites (pride, lust, envy, apathy, and whatnot) is the worn path to our miseries. Because to go the opposite way and lay down our wills—four life-changing words—is to climb far into the tree of eternal life and out onto a thin limb where only our faith holds us on; where, as it turns out, the best parts of life are lived. Because there on that limb I first recognized I was as weak as any of them. Because one wrong move and not a one of us has such a strong constitution as we thought.
And it’s that healthy fear of succumbing to the world’s rebellious streak that holds me on; or it’s that and God’s love. It’s definitely not something my old self would have chosen to do, put it that way. Or this way: a vocation of faith is a good, hard road of responsibility that comes naturally now. And I’ve chosen it—that is, the new me did. It is, for a fact, the real vocation of every believer, regardless of their paying job, and it comes at a cost (Mt 16:24) that holds not a candle to the infinite reward (1 Cor 2:9).
I usually don’t parse my vocation, by the way. I usually just look at it as, I can’t help but do what I do because I love Him because He loves me. And, in the end, if it’s all done with that motive, it will be worth it. It’s not done because I’m going to get prizes from God for it, that’s for sure (all believers will get what fills us to the brim—that is a suitable definition of Heaven, is it not?). Nor is it done to get accolades from people. That’s just another version of “Come back to me, dear child. Yours truly, World.” But it whispers its sweet nothings to me in vain. I know the truth: I do what I do because I am in God’s lap already, right where I want to be, seated in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6); where you are too, friend, in your own vocation of faith.
And so, no deal, world. I already know you’re miserable, with cause. And to trade all that God has given me, in light of what I know is in store for you, is not a good trade. Anyway, dear reader, such is the challenge of my vocation—and the blessing. And you have the same things out on your limb, I’m sure. Next time I see you, I’ll likely reach out and tell you so.
Till then, I hope this encourages you to persevere in your vocation of faith.
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