"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 2, 2015
Here is an excerpt from book 'The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Mark Rodriguez', which is a collection of a young man's personal journals:
"Dear God: Calling. I hate that word. What is my calling? Some people seem to help the poor. I seem called to do...... what? It's hard to hear them speak with such a focused passion when I don't have one. It makes me feel.... almost inferior. Like I'm just here, moseying through life while their heart breaks for the broken. When will my heart break for Your work? I wish it would happen now, so I wouldn't feel like this passionless dude. I'm impatient, I know. And I confess I'm jealous. I just....I want to be used. I'm searching, longing for whatever my calling may be. Please help me God. Tell me something. GUIDE me."
How many of us have ever felt like that? It seems like everyone else around us has some type of special calling or have extraordinary gifts or focus; but we feel like we're just spinning our wheels going nowhere in life. What's our purpose? Do we even have a purpose? Did God somehow skip over us and forget to give us our special calling?
I've felt like that many times. I hear sermons or people talk about how God is using them, or how God has a plan for our lives, and it leaves me questioning what my purpose in life is. I don't feel like I'm particularly special or that I have any type of impact on anyone's life. In fact, there have been times when it seems as if everyone else knows what they're doing and where they're going in life, and I'm being left behind in the dust. Sometimes it's caused me to ask if perhaps I've somehow missed hearing God or have missed following the plan that He has for my life.
Honestly, I've felt like that for the past few years now. I haven't had a particular passion about anything and felt like I was accomplishing very little in life. It's mainly just been living from day to day, doing ordinary things, seemingly not doing anything of significance. It's been a good life and I feel blessed, but I haven't particularly felt like God has been using me or that I've really been fulfilling His great big plan for my life.
I bet that's exactly how Abraham, Moses, Eve, Ruth, Jeremiah, Dorcus, Timothy, Matthew, Mary, and numerous others in the Bible felt. They had a few significant moments in their life that we read about, but overall they were getting by in life, accomplishing whatever needed done each day. They plowed fields, took care of cattle, sewed, raised kids, did home repairs, ran errands, etc.... on a day to day basis. Their mundane moments far exceeded their miraculous ones. I'm sure they all had times of wondering if they were really following God's plan and accomplishing what He wanted them to do in life.
This past week I had one of those rare moments of insight. I was mowing our yard, which is when I do some of my best thinking. I can sit on the mower and let my mind wander.
I really don't remember what I was thinking, but suddenly it was like a light went on inside my head and God reveal to me that what His calling and plan was for my life. Not only that, He showed me that I had actually been already doing this for the past four years. I just hadn't seen or recognized it as a calling.
Very clearly, I heard in my mind, "You are called to be Janie's 'Aaron'". Aaron was the younger brother of Moses and was his assistant and helper and encourager. He stood in battle with Moses and was there to hold up the hands of Moses when they became weary during battle. (When Moses' hands were raised, the Israelites were winning the battle; when his hands lowered, the enemy started winning. His hands became weary and Aaron and Hur stood beside him, holding his hands up.) Moses was the one who received recognition and honor; was called of God to be the leader of the Israelites to get them to the promised land; and was used greatly by God. But he could not have been the leader that he was and accomplished what he did without the support of his brother.
God showed me that for the past four years, I've fulfilled that role in my sister's life. Ever since the year that Jimmy was diagnosed with brain cancer until today, I have been Janie's support. I helped her care for Jimmy during the months leading up to his home-going to heaven. I stayed with Devin when he was too young to stay alone during the day and Janie needed to work. I've cared for her grandkids when needed. I've traveled with her when she needed to go various places. Honestly, those things didn't seem like a big deal; I thought I was just being there to love and support my sister and didn't see it as a particular gift.
God showed me how He orchestrated my life so that I could fulfill that role. He blessed Jon with a great job so that I could "retire" early and be available to do the things that I've been doing. God directed my steps in ways that I hadn't even recognized.
Romans 12:6-8 (NLT): "In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness [some versions say "show mercy"] to others, do it gladly."
Not everyone is going to have a gift that is noticeable to others. In fact, most of us probably don't; but these gifts are important, too. It is important to have people who are gifted with the ability to encourage others. It's also important to have people who are called to give. Showing kindness or mercy to others is also crucial. The world needs people with a servant's heart, who are willing to help and support.
What you are called to do is not something that is just anyone is good at doing. For instance, I don't have the gift of mercy! My attitude tends to be, "Straighten up and do what you know you need to do! Grow up and do what is right!" There are some who have a sensitive and tender heart and are able to reach out to others with mercy and kindness.
Some may not see what you do as anything special or as a gift; in fact, you may tend to not recognize it yourself. There may be times when you may be criticized for doing what God calls you to do. Family and friends may not always understand. You may have a hard time seeing it as your calling, thinking that you are only doing what needs to be done. But that is often how God works: He places us where He can best use us and where we need to be at a specific time.
When we are where God places us, doing what He wants us to do, that is when we're going to feel the most fulfilled. Shine where you are. Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative to the Lord Jesus. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:17 & 23)
When Loretta first told me about learning her calling was as support, like being Aaron to Janie's Moses, the name that came to mind was Samwise Gamgee. Loretta just gave me a look. You can probably guess the look. And I speculated that I must be Pippin (Peregrin Took). That got me another look.
[Loretta said I should point out that these are characters from Lord of the Rings. But I thought everyone would already know that.]
I thought it was a good analogy. Samwise wasn't just a hired gardener. He loved Frodo like a brother (I think they were cousins). And he was willing to go to the ends of the earth with him, and didn't care about getting any credit or honor for it. He was happy to let Frodo be the hero, but give Frodo all the support he needed.
Pippin was happy to help, in the rare cases he knew what helping meant. Mostly, he was along for the ride and eager to find some adventure. If he could sit back and watch a cool adventure, handing someone a sword now and then, he would have been happy. Eventually, he was able to step up and be a hero himself, but that wasn't so much on purpose.
I thought it was a great analogy. Loretta loves her whole family, but only gets opportunities to help a few. And she has gone to the ends of the country with her sister. I'm happy to be along for the ride. I'm glad to help out, but rarely know what to do. Most of the time, I hang out and take care of a few details now and then, and do the technical side of a newsletter. But I'm happy with that. It doesn't feel like an amazing calling, but I'm happy with it.
I like quick, easy breakfast recipes and here are a couple of my favorites.
Egg in a Basket
Salt & Pepper
Melt butter in a skillet. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the middle of the bread. Quickly dredge the bread in the butter on one side, then place other side down in the butter. Crack an egg in the center hole. Salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until desired firmness of egg yolk. (I like my yolk more well done, so after the egg starts cooking, I break the yolk.) Flip over and continue cooking until done. You may also put the center pieces of bread you cut out in the skillet to brown and eat as little toast pieces. A slice of cheese can be melted over the top, if desired.
Sausage, Cream Cheese, & Eggs
Salt & Pepper
Brown sausage; drain. Add a package of cream cheese to the warm sausage and stir together to blend. In a separate pan, scramble eggs; salt and pepper, to taste. When the eggs are done, add them to the sausage-cream cheese mixture and gently stir together. This is very simple, but good.
My father-in-law got a new roommate a few weeks ago in the Alzheimers unit of the nursing home where he now lives. This man has a grandson who was gunned down in an apparent random act of violence when driving home in May of 2014, when the young man was only 17 years old. After his death, his parents started reading his journals that he had kept since age 12. What they realized from reading them was that their ordinary son had an extraordinary relationship with God. They have recently published his journals into a book. Mark had a deep spiritual insight that exceeded his age, and such a profound hunger for God. Reading it has made me hunger for that same type of relationship and longing for God in my own life. I recommend this book.
The title is "The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Mark Rodriguez" and is by Mark Rodriguez and Leigh Ellen Rodriguez (his mother). The book can be purchased on Amazon in either paperback or kindle form.
" [God] It's so cool that I can know You personally.
You created the entire universe, yet You want a relationship with me.
That's just so incredible; please don't ever let me take that for granted." - Mark Rodriguez
We love you!
Loretta & Jon