As we transition from talking about all sorts of different relationships we are blessed to be able to have, let’s focus on the last of the Seven Ripples of Life, which I call, Joyous Service. Here is a great verse:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10 NIV
What are we created in Christ to do? Good works! It is vital for us to understand that we are first made New Creations in Christ, but then this new person we now are, has a part to play in God’s Kingdom. Sadly, too many well meaning people go to church every week, but they never enter into this most important and fulfilling aspect of being with God. Again, first we must become His Child. This means being saved by Grace through Faith, (Eph 2:8) then we must begin to grow in Christ and follow His lead to do good in this world. (Ac 10:38) We are to be God’s hands and feet, which simply means we are to love others in whatever way God moves us to do so. Good works can be anything and everything from calling a neighbor to check on them after a storm, to paying a way for a missionary to be able to spread the news. Whatever God puts in our hearts to do, with His help, do it we must. We all were created to glorify God by serving Him. And of course, He is the greatest Master anyone could ask for because He always has our good in mind. Romans 8:28 is my anchor verse which clearly tells us that God is always working everything together for our good, because we love Him and are called to His purpose. Again sadly, way to many people go to church every week and miss this vital piece, “called to His purpose.” What’s that purpose? To love and be loved. But we cannot fulfill this goal unless we are serving God by giving of our time, talents and treasures in ways that He leads us to do. To glorify God is to serve Him whichever way He calls us. And our “calling” is so much more than just a job.
Occupation or vocation? An occupation is more focused on making an income so that we are able to live our lives here, as comfortably as we can. This involves using the talents God has given us. Whether that means being able to manage money well and becoming a financial planner or being able to portray all sorts of different characters and becoming an actor, occupations center upon developing and using these personality traits and innate talents. This means we are born with everything we need to fulfill that career, but we do work to reinforce, enhance and establish these aptitudes. We go to schools. We get practical experience through jobs. Or we work as an apprentice under someone who is an expert in that particular profession. Again, I say, the focus is to make money so we can live our lives here. While this is a necessity, to have a truly fulfilling life, we cannot stop there. We must find our vocation too. A vocation, on the other hand, speaks about a calling we have been given by God to carry out in this world, which will effect the next world. This could mean starting a nonprofit organization to feed hungry children. It can look like a worldwide ministry that spreads the news about the Gospel of Jesus. It can be volunteering at a nursing home to tend to our elderly population. Whatever it is, it requires more than just talents, it requires a passion within us. God will stir our hearts to desire to do this vocation and we will want to work with Him to do it. (Php 2:13) It is required that we “work with Him” because we cannot do this on our own. We must utilize the Fruit of the Spirit to be able to undertake this mission. We must learn to grow into the likeness of Christ to be able to execute this life’s work. We must walk by Faith in order to fulfill this purpose. Why? Because the focus is not in anything of this world. The center of a vocation is God and loving others in His Name. And there is no way you and I, on our own, can truly reflect God’s Love apart from Him. (Jn 15:5) We need the Holy Spirit to guide us, to give us insight, to strengthen us, to open up doors for us, to keep us patient, to grant us resources…and so on and so on. Apart from God, we cannot find our vocation, but by His Grace, even when we refuse to acknowledge God’s existence, we can still obtain an occupation.
Both may be required. Many times we have a job, but then we also volunteer elsewhere as a vocation. And when we do so, the potential stress from the occupation can be lessened, if not eliminated, by this vocation. One is to give us funds to live, the other grants us the will to live. Both blend together to make us whole. Too many people work hard at their jobs, but then remain drained because they do not know they should be seeking something deeper, something outside of themselves, something more eternal. It is only when we give of ourselves that we become more and more like God who is The Giver. We need both an occupation and a vocation. It is awesome when these two are one and the same, but that does not always happen. After Beckie began her trials, I finally began living deeper, outside of just MMI, and I began volunteering my time, using my talents yes, but more surprisingly, I began using my gifts…we will talk more about that next week. For now, please seek your vocation. If you don’t know where to start, just start anywhere. God will guide you to know what His will is for you. How? You will either sense pure joy in what you are doing, or you will feel like it is not for you. Keep seeking until you find your sweet spot. Our Lord has been so good to lead me to mine, and my life keeps getting more and more abundant the more I work with Him to develop these gifts. Again more on that next week, but if you want a more fulfilling life, won’t you join me?
Until we meet again, keep lifting your eyes to God, He’s closer than you think.
<>< Peace, Diane