I just had a thought ... shocking, I know.
I realized I have not yet shared a significant epiphany that took place in my world this year. (Note: I am not referring to the holiday in January but the rare and precious occurrence of the proverbial dangling light bulb above my head suddenly turning on. It doesn't happen often, so I like to commemorate it when it does.)
And unless you and I grab coffee or dinner or share more words than a tweet allows, then my blog is typically the place I share such moments with others. It is also the place I document them for posterity since my own feeble memory is no longer a viable filing system.
What was I saying?
Oh yeah. Epiphany.
So earlier this year I was contemplating the prospect of a career shift once I graduate from seminary - an event about seven years in the making but on track for December. You see for the better part of the last four years, I have been using my dust-covered yet very expensive math degree by working in the accounting department of a large travel agency. This was planned to be a temporary arrangement until school was out of the way and I could return to what I had deemed "real ministry." The aforementioned "real ministry" had been my vocation for the better part of two decades leading up to seminary, and I was convinced it was my inevitable destination afterward.
Those two words should light up your dashboard as a spoiler alert for what is to follow: this doesn't play out the way I thought it would.
I couldn't get over this sense that God might want me to stick around said accounting department, even beyond graduation.
"Weird. Why would He want that? I'm just crunching numbers. There is important ministry work for me to get back to." (I'd like to introduce you to my very active Messiah Complex.)
Yet the sense did not go away. In fact it got stronger.
Then I read John Ortberg's book "The Me I Want to Be." Little did I know God had handpicked this book for such a time as this.
As someone convinced my efforts wouldn't be worthwhile until I returned to "real ministry," imagine my shock and chagrin when I read these God-inspired words:
"God Himself can only bless me in my circumstances today. If I cannot experience the Spirit in the work I am doing today, then I can't experience the Spirit today at all" (p.225).
Oh, but this one was the real kicker: "We are the ones who make our work significant - not the other way around" (p. 227).
Stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 ... until you read those words at least one more time.
We are the ones who make our work significant - not the other way around.
Maybe that doesn't hit you like a bazooka to the chest like it did me. In the world of me, my identity was almost entirely wrapped up in this "higher calling." In my mind, though I would have never verbalized it this way to anyone, I was one of the "chosen" ones called to something better than most ... I was "called to ministry." Oh, sure ... I know ... we're all called to be ministers. We serve wherever we are, so bloom where you're planted. Yada yada yada.
But secretly I never really believed that applied to me.
Because I was called to ministry.
But now, if God is grabbing that rug out from underneath me and saying, "Meredith, everyone is called to ministry. Everyone" ... then where does that leave me? Who am I really? What makes me special?
And God said, "I'm so glad you asked."
You see, as God drew me into this dialogue, He redefined my understanding of worth and most importantly the source of it. I am not special because of a unique calling or a special title. I'm not significant because of where I work or what kind of work I do. I'm significant because of who I do the work for.
YOU are significant because of that too.
And while at the time it was a difficult, mind-blowing, world-rocking, reality-shifting epiphany, it was also the sweetest relief I'd known in awhile. My work, my performance is not why God loves me. He just does. The work I do is both an expression of His love for me (to invite me to join Him) and an expression of my love back to Him.
So whether I am a pastor or a pizza maker, a chaplain or a chicken farmer, a minister or a mathematician, what matters is that I do it all to the glory of God.
* Special thanks to Steven Curtis Chapman for composing a soundtrack to my epiphany. Click here if you can't see the above video.