Most Monday mornings I wake up around 5:40am. I slap and poke and mumble at my phone until noise stops. I crawl out of bed, throw on clothes, and drive sleep-intoxicated to a friend’s house. By about 6:15, a group of 5 or 6 guys is assembled. By about 6:30, we’re knee deep in discussing the Bible, a book, or our own lives. By 7:30, we’re saying goodbye to the group and good morning to the rest of our town. Cars busy bustling to work and school. Donut shops thriving with bright lights and sugar-highs.
Many mornings I leave blessed by this group. Encouraged. Strengthened. Pushed. I come home happy to be alive. Maybe more alive than I had been earlier. Certainly more alive than I was at 5:40.
But some mornings I come home bothered by this group. I chose that word carefully. Not just concerned. Not just saddened. Not just discouraged. But bothered. I know. Sounds kinda rough, right?
It seems, at times, that this group represents all of humanity. All of its boldness and bravery. Christ in me. Present. Living. Full.
All of its insecurity and isolation. Christ in me. Somewhere. Helping. Hoping…
Monday, was one of those weeks.
We’re about to begin trekking through Scot McKnight’s One .Life. Nope, I didn’t accidentally put a period in between those two words. It’s something intentionally done not just in the title, but throughout the whole book. What’s the intention? Not sure I’ll find out.
We came to group with Chapter One in the bank. We read it and were ready to discuss it. To be honest, this chapter could’ve been the first chapter in any Christian book you’ve ever read. But I’ve been told this book is more about the discussion it provokes than the writing itself. And I believe that just might be true, because while the writing wasn’t Shakespeare, the conversation sure felt loaded and weighty Monday morning.
McKnight’s asking us to pursue our dreams. Our real hopes for our one.and.only.life. He mentions a conversation he once overheard involving brilliant British theologian John Stott and a young college student. The young man asked, “How can I discern the Lord’s will for my life?” Stott responded simply. Succinctly. Smartly.
“Here’s how to determine God’s will for your life: Go wherever your gifts will be exploited the most.”
When I read that sentence the night before, sitting in my house with my soon-to-be one-year-old son. My wife of 5 years. Best friend for more than a decade. Lovely home. Job I’m passionate about that exploits many of my gifts. Family nearby. Friends all around. I found myself deeply contented. It reminded me of a post I wrote here on this site quite some time ago. But as I heard that sentence again in new company, my heart wasn’t nearly as lifted.
As we all sat around the room Monday morning, coffee sipping and life pondering, Stott’s words shot like an arrow into several of these men’s hearts. You could hear brains firing. Souls stirring. Searching. Asking. “Am I currently doing something where my gifts are exploited the most?”
I used to have this tagline I used in the end of my emails.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who’ve come alive.
I believe that to be pretty true. But as I sat and listened, I realize some of us weren’t fully alive right now. Hearts barely beating at times. Grinding.
We spent most of our time discussing vocations. Jobs. Unhappiness at the work place (again…not me. thankfully.). Yearning to find our “calling”. Unfortunately, if God were calling, we weren’t picking up the phone. I think we were dancing all around the point. Over and over again.
You think a janitor’s passionate about mopping? Maybe. Maybe not. You think Paul couldn’t have lived if he were doing something other than tent making? I’m aware that these words don’t carry the weight that they could, simply because I’m not only doing a job I love, but my job also happens to be ministry. It’s killing lots of birds with very few stones. It’s not fair.
But I hope we don’t let our jobs carry the whole weight of our dreams. I hope our jobs are well done, by us. By Christ followers. But I also hope that we dream in other places as well.
To raise a good family. To have a solid marriage. To make and keep lasting friendships. To disciple those younger than us. To follow Christ, wherever he may lead. Even if that leads to frustration today.
Because “joy comes in the morning”.
Wake up. Open your eyes. See the morning.