Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Place for Everyone

Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. I read that book so long ago I can’t remember one specific thing it said, but the title sums up a concept that has gained much favor: People wouldn’t be made with specific inclinations if they weren’t meant to earn their daily bread through those inclinations. Attractive as the idea is, and sensible as it seems in light of the Christian concept that God fits each of us for specific purposes, I’m somewhat cynical. To insist “your ministry and your daily labor should always be one and the same” is to disavow the example of St. Paul, who considered himself first and foremost a preacher of the Gospel and yet specifically chose not to make his financial living that way. (See 2 Thess. 3:7–10.) And with the exceptions of natural entrepreneurs and those blessed with skills in heavy demand, those of us who do (only) what we love rarely see money following all that closely. At least not in sufficient amounts to immediately and permanently absolve us from working at anything else.

Personally, not only do I have trouble selling my writing skills for more than a few hundred dollars, it often seems I can’t even give them away. My church has never found more than occasional use for my articles and poetry; the same goes for other volunteer-minded nonprofits I know. Even this blog and my other online writing have drawn limited attention.

There are people with far greater cause to moan “There’s no place for me in this world.” The ex-convict whose search for honest work is stymied by public distrust; the quadriplegic who literally can’t lift a finger unassisted; the inner-city resident who daily hears “the world won’t ever let us rise above poverty”; the person whose autism-afflicted brain can only comprehend the larger world through extensive mental calculations—these are the ones who rarely think about what they’d most enjoy working at.
Any work would be welcome if they could be accepted as honest and competent—which often seems a hopeless dream.

We can be grateful that God doesn’t limit citizenship in His Kingdom to those who are “useful” in terms of physical strength, charisma, brains, or even spectacular testimony. Indeed, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27–29). That’s not to say He has no use for the more obviously “capable,” just that when someone in
any category of capability is fully surrendered to His will, He can achieve far more of eternal value through that person than through anyone depending on his or her own abilities. This also may explain why, instead of handing us detailed assignments, He so often seems to let us navigate by trial and error. While we think in terms of “getting things done,” God thinks in terms of getting us done—the work we complete for His Kingdom is far less precious to Him than the work He will complete in us. And only He knows the exact combinations of time, struggle, and success that will ultimately make each of us all we can be.

What’s important for each of us to know is that, whatever this world thinks of us, we fully “belong” in God’s society.

Every piece in a puzzle will have its spot,
Every part in machinery will have its slot,
Every creature in nature will have its place,
Every tint in the spectrum will have its space.
And each soul that belongs to the House of Christ,
Those He freed from their sin at an awesome price,
Has a place in His Body and Holy Nation,
The true home of each soul who has found salvation.
All empowered from above,
Joined together by love,
Every one will belong,
All in service made strong,
Through eternity part of His new Creation.

And God’s work will be done through His strength in all,
Every soul who has come to His holy call.
Let not one cast an eye of contempt or scorn
On another in Christ who has been reborn,
Nor sit idle and say “But my gifts are few.”
God has work for us all—yes, for even you.
Give no thought to your past or your earthly station,
But look up to the Lord of our great salvation.
We are drawn from each race,
From each climate and place,
And God uses each one,
Closes all He begun,
Till earth’s work all is done at the Consummation.

No comments: