I just finished another chapter of the book I’ve been reading for my morning devotional, Awake My Soul, by Timothy Jones. He poses an interesting question — Can work not only feed the body, but nourish the soul? It’s a chapter about the idea of vocation, or calling. Martin Luther, of course, argued that not only priests and nuns, but milkmaids, blacksmiths and housewives shared in God’s work in the world. The work we do becomes holy if reverently approached. Our work can serve others and influence others for Christ.
Just recently I was talking to a friend about her Via de Cristo retreat (I was the leader of her weekend). I shared with her how I felt that God had called me to train the team for that retreat, and she said, “Joan, you trained the team just for me.” One of the big surprises that happened for my friend, was an opportunity to reconnect with another woman named Karen, someone she hadn’t seen since she was a girl. Karen became Beth Ann’s spiritual mentor for a time. I knew Karen through my workplace; I was working at a job I was not eager to take, yet it led to an amazing experience for somebody else. No doubt there were other plans of God at work that I’ll never even know about. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, but it was where I needed to be, and where God placed me at that time. Knowing that has nourished my soul.
Often we are called to do what we enjoy, even if it involves financial sacrifice. After retirement, I started work for the local library, only to find myself feeling unsettled. I liked the job; I like the people, so what was the problem? I just had the continual, nagging feeling that it was taking me away from what God wanted me to do. So I quit and now find myself blogging and working as a volunteer for my church. These activities have fed my soul, and maybe to the souls of a few others.
Of course, it’s a constant challenge to discern God’s will, and we’ll make wrong turns. We won’t always get it right. We must pray, ask advice from Godly friends, and pay attention to our circumstances and how God is using our gifts and talents.
As Jones says in his book,
“We spend too much time at work for it not to be a setting for daily seeking and experiencing God. …..CONCENTRATE ON WORK, BUT MAKE ROOM FOR GOD…”