I think I took life at Multnomah University for granted. I was constantly around others who loved God and that rubbed off on me – I didn’t have to try hard at keeping my focus on spiritual matters. Now that I’ve graduated and am not on campus anymore, being purposeful in my daily spiritual walk is not as easy as it once was; I had never understood why people would put such a heavy emphasis on having a daily devotional time or starting out the day in prayer or other spiritual growth habits because, honestly, I was already doing those things regularly for school. I didn’t have to think about it – it was a requirement to get good grades.
“Spiritual Life” was a college class. No, really…it was. I took a class my freshman year that was called that.
I’m reminded of a sermon I once heard at a church I was attending back in 2006. The pastor was preaching about “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:5-14) and said that Jesus wasn’t teaching his disciples “prayer 101” but “prayer 401”: advanced prayer. These were men that knew about spiritual matters – their whole society was focused around being spiritual. He stressed that too often we look at that particular passage as something for children when in reality it is much deeper. That message has stuck with me over the years but over the last couple weeks it has really sunk in: prayer is an advanced spiritual growth practice.
I’m currently a security officer and patrol multiple big warehouses and office buildings; thus far, I’ve only been scheduled for graveyard shifts which means that it’s dark and I’m on my own while on patrol. I’m not going to lie: my job scares me – I already don’t like the dark but being in those giant buildings can be terrifying when you let your imagination run wild! To cope with one particular building that is full of twists and turns and general creepiness, I started doing what now seems like the obvious choice: I started praying while walking around on patrol. A few weeks ago, my thought process went something like this:
I do not want to be working here. I have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours over the last 6 years going to school in order to be trained for youth ministry. That is what I want to be doing with my life. That is what I have been working towards. I’m not going to be happy until I am working in a church again.
Looking back, I can see just how incredibly narrow minded I was being. Don’t get me wrong: I still desire to work in a church and minister to youth. I very much do. But to take the attitude that there was nothing good that could happen in life unless it was by the course I had laid out in my own head is just…stupid. Prayer helped me realize that.
I’m thankful to have my current job and I’m happy to see growth happening in my understanding of God even though I’m not currently in a “ministry” role. I hadn’t thought about it at the time but it’s been on my mind recently: during my interview, I mentioned that I was still looking for Youth Pastor positions and one of the bosses said
That’s cool that you want to do ministry. God knows there are people around here that could use a little of that.
Even when it’s not our plan, God still has a purpose and a role for us to fill; perhaps, for the time being, mine is to simply be a reflection of Christ towards my coworkers. I think what we all have to ask ourselves is this: are we so focused on what we want (no matter how good that plan seems to be) that we don’t see the opportunities right in front of us?