The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 10: Joy in Our Calling (2 of 3)
Let me ask you another question: If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you be doing with your life right now? If you could have the ultimate dream job, what would it be? I pray you’re actually doing what you love right now, but if you’re not, I hope your answer to these questions brought a little thrill to your heart, a little shot of adrenaline, a little hope to your weary fingers and strained eyes. Because if you’re living out God’s calling–His will–for you, you don’t have to worry about the money; in fact, you don’t have to worry about anything! “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” Jesus told during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Not a few of these things, not some of these things, but all these things will be given to you as well.
From the very beginning of my corporate work experience, and even while attending college prior to entering the 9 to 5 world, I began to realize not many people actually enjoyed doing what they were doing, but they kept doing it anyway. During my almost thirty year stint in the corporate workforce, I’d heard countless gripes, complaints, and lamentations from folks about how much they loathed their jobs. They lived the Dilbert comic strip every day, but without the punch line. I saw how their jobs were making them sick, lethargic, unmotivated, grumpy. I saw, in other cases, how their jobs were killing them. “Why don’t you just quit?” I began to ask in response to these moans. “Because I need the money,” came the invariable answer. And so these folks kept right on griping, complaining, and lamenting. It stunk.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain,” the apostle Paul cautioned in his first letter to Timothy, “but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV). Notice how Paul said “everything for our enjoyment.” Everything. For our enjoyment! God is the God of provision and unlimited resources. But for decades I went right along with those complaining about their jobs yet doing nothing about it.
Oh, I may not have complained so much out loud, trying to wear a more positive attitude on the outside. But I could definitely relate to the complainers, the whiners, and the bellyachers. And my conflicted attitude about work and money began to rear its ugly head in the form of depression, illness, pain, anger, bitterness, tiredness, and lack of motivation. I felt trapped between maintaining a lifestyle I’d constructed over the past three decades and remaining miserable, or finally believing what God says about provision, protection, and doing His will, and risk living . . . joyfully. “Men and women of faith struggle rather to surrender to and trust God and His providence,” wrote Matthew Kelly in A Call to Joy. “This surrender and trust free Christians of worry and anxiety and allow them to focus their energy on the realities of the present moment” (Matthew Kelly, A Call to Joy, “Chapter 3: Building Blocks of the Spiritual Life,” page 77).
I knew God never meant for our work to suck the life out of us like a spider draining the blood from a bug and leaving the husk to shiver in the wind. Over the years I had allowed myself to be brainwashed by the mantra of retirement planning, coming the realize that no one–no one!–in the Bible ever retired. Shoot, Moses was, what, 120 years old when he finally died? Just imagine if he’d turned in the key to the Hebrew executive washroom at age 65 and continued to hang out in the desert with Zipporah, cultivating succulents for a hobby. Where would the Jewish people be? Probably still in Egypt, serving the Egyptians, as they’d done for over 400 years prior to Moses stepping in and demanding Pharaoh to let his people go. No, Moses started his main career at age 80, after 40 years of gaining experience living in the desert. Noah started building the ark when he was something like 500. Abraham didn’t even have Isaac until he was 100. Dang, in Biblical perspective, I’m just getting warmed up!
Dan Rasmussen is the Campus Pastor for New River Mineral Wells, in Mineral Wells, Texas, but before his life in fulltime ministry began, Dan was a chiropractor. Son of church planter, pastor, missionary, and jack-of-all-trades, Dan went to college after high school, not for ministry, but for football. After he met his wife, Janna, and they started dating, football suddenly became much less important. Dan and Janna got married while he was a sophomore in college. “My thought then was, ‘how am I going to provide for this woman?’” he told me.
“Part of my upbringing was always helping those in need,” he said. “Watching my parents, and seeing their hearts, I wondered if I could find a career that helped those in need as well. I began searching healthcare professions and landed on a career in chiropractic.” After graduating from chiropractic school, Dan started his own practice. At first “it was great! I was my own boss and ‘living the dream,’ or at least I thought I was.” After struggling for five years, “the business was sucking the fun and joy right out of me.”
So, after praying and discussing the situation with Janna, Dan walked away from his practice and began working for a friend in sales, “but it still was just a job,” he said. “A means to pay my bills.” Again he began to question what he was doing, then his friend let him go from that job as well.
Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes