This is my buddy, Ryan. He won’t mind me making a big deal about his toughness. He’s an endurance junky, through and through. He absolutely loves the outdoors. I’ve had the joy of getting to know him as a friend and brother in Christ. His love for God’s creation spans from years and years of various ways of enjoying God’s creation, but one of the biggest highlights is his hike all the way up the AT trail on the East Coast – over 2,100 miles long. He quit his job out here in Merced, CA and went on this adventure a couple of years ago. He was meeting with my wife and me to talk about Jesus, and we came, the three of us together, to really enjoy laughing and sharing the joy we have in relationship with Jesus Christ. We talked about our Savior with such fondness and commitment, wanting to live our lives with endurance, honoring what He has done in enduring the cross for us.
May our lives be lives of endurance, friends! May we endure through to the end because God’s Holy Spirit has been given to all of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior and LORD. The Holy Spirit empowers obedient and even JOYFUL walks of TRUE FAITH. True and lasting faith is that which is fully recumbent upon the LORD as Savior, as sovereign, as sufficient, as WORTH IT.
My wife and I have decided to move back to Merced, CA at this point in our lives. I need to focus on being better with endurance with my business. Ryan inspires me when I see this photo, because he’s always jumping into whatever he focuses on with 110%. The sport he’s engaging in here is one I did when in my teens. It’s called cyclocrossing. You ride and run intermittently and are constantly going back and forth between the two in pretty intense conditions quite often.
This is to me a great illustration for all of us when it comes to our vocations and our occupations. What is your vocation? What are you called to pour yourself into before God? What’s your occupation? Are they distinct or winsomely merged somehow? I truly believe that in some way we can find that our occupation (for most of us) can regularly have aspects of our vocation weaved all throughout it. And, the same can go the other way. Our vocation, our calling before God while on this planet, can have occupational aspects all through it.
For example, my role as an insurance agent could get dry and just about numbers very easily, but God has helped me over the last year to believe more and more that He can make my calling more and more obvious in the midst of what I do for a living. The people I meet here constantly give me opportunities to ministry like I’d never get to minister as an official pastor – nothing against pastors, but many I know have challenged me to see my calling inside of my vocation/occupation.
It’s my belief that the vast majority of believers are called to live their lives before God in such an open-hearted way that it becomes very difficult to decipher between when someone is just trying to feed their family vs pouring their heart and soul into their profession and community in a way that points people to Jesus. What I mean is that God is honored by our use of our professions to point people to the Savior, of course, but courageously and consistently.
As we make a practice of this, we put the bike down and leap onto it (occupation) and then within seconds spring off onto our feet (vocation), incorporating a winsome and impactful conversation or act of kindness/generosity, sharing the reason for our hope in Jesus or building up someone who already loves our LORD (all of our vocation is ultimately our calling to make disciples of Jesus Christ – Matthew 28). God gives us still more courage to do this with grace in our neighborhoods and parks and grocery stores as well. Yet, we all too often think that the only place to practice our faith is inside the walls of our church buildings… Isn’t this the opposite of what God teaches us in His Word? Faith is not a performance for each other in religious contexts but rather an active obedience to the Savior and following of Him as His disciples. Our times of worship and prayer and edification together should be a place where we get to share what God has been up to in and through us instead of being a place where we hope to see what God might do only in our midst during one meeting a week. May the name of Jesus be lifted up creatively and consistently in our lives, friends, all week long!
In the friendship of the LORD,