Last night we took a journey through the whole arc of God’s work in the world, seeing the ways that God’s work parallels our own vocations (which, of course, go beyond what we might think of as “work” to include the whole of who we are in the world – both inside and outside a 9-to-5).
We began with Creation, where the ideal of our being in the world was laid out. Humanity was made to have dominion, to be rulers over God’s creation, wisely stewarding it, filling it, subduing it, forming it so that all things were more and more in rhythm with God’s eternal rhythms.
If you’re like me, those very words “subdue”, “rulers”, “dominion”, have negative, not positive, connotations. It is virtually impossible even to imagine a world in which humanity might exercise dominion over creation in a way that aligns with God’s purposes. It is impossible to imagine a world absent The Fall.
Where God’s plans for humanity called for a harmonious existence with both creation and Creator, the Fall left us naked and afraid, dissonant. Our vocations, rather than making beautiful music out of God’s creation, became “contested”, discordant.
God identifies the results of this discord – pain in our labors, both inside and outside the home, and enmity in our relationships. What was a calling to make beautiful things out of God’s creation turned to dust.
We paused in the midst of this discord last night, allowing the effect of The Fall on our own sense of being in the world to linger. The pain and disconnection we experience on a daily basis was artfully drawn out with a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1. Instead of a purpose harmonious with the eternal music of God, our vocations have become “utterly boring”. “Nothing changes”, life is just “the same old thing” over and over and over again. Judging by the number of people who stood in resonance with those feelings, I’d say we as a community are well acquainted with the ways our vocations have become contested, how The Fall has marred the good gift God gave.
But that, of course, is not the end of the story. The Bible speaks of a future filled with life and healing, a future that is – despite the effects of the Fall – breaking in to the present even as we speak. The Bible speaks of Redemption.
Katie generously shared her story with us – actually, let’s call it what it is, she PREACHED – calling our attention to the fact that our vocation is not found in this or that perfect job, fully aligned with our deepest passions. Rather, our vocation is to love and to develop the fruit of the Spirit, something we might do wherever we might find ourselves. The ‘how’ of our being in the world, Katie reminded us, matters just as much as the ‘what’. We can bear fruit in any number of scenarios. Listen to Katie’s beautiful words here.
And this, of course, is the grand vision of vocation that Jenna and John led us through these past three weeks. Our vocation is not limited to the paid work we do. It is not defined by how much we make, how much recognition we get, or how much passion we feel. Our vocation is not what we are, but how we are. How we do our jobs, yes, but also how we parent our kids, love our friends, interact with those whose paths we cross, shop, even (dare I say it?) drive.
Redemption is the ultimate truth of our vocations. God offers us healing, healing from the boring, painful, disconnected vocations we experience, vocations which might seem like our only option. He offers us an alternative, a life connected with his deep purposes in the world wherever we find ourselves. He makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives.
Curtis Miller and The Practice Team