Seeing God’s Invisible Work; Tasting His Goodness

I had a taste, a sweet and nutritious taste yesterday of God at work in my life. His invisible hand became visible, and I tasted what His hand served. My first glimpse of His sleeve occurred the night before.This is a story of vocation: God at work through the instruments (means) of human beings, called to provide for His own. I am one of His own.  Grace (yes, that is her name) was summoned (vocatio, called) to address the need of the needy. I am needy. God prepared the one called to meet my need (and not just my need).

Hmm. Weeks ago, I chose the topic of vocation to explore early in 2015. That is, I believe God directed my thoughts toward this theme in order that He would bless you through this post. Writing posts for this blog is one of my vocations, a calling. I did not know that I would become a key character in a real-life illustration. Maybe you won’t see what I see. Maybe I better provide the back story.

Paul and I did a Destination Denver Christmas with our daughter, Amanda, at a historical, Victorian home owned by a dear friend. We three joined her in celebrating Christmas, along with most of the members of our two, immediate families. We’ve known each other for decades, cultivating our friendships from a distance as each family relocated at times.

A visit to Georgetown, Colorado three days before Christmas! Cold and beautiful!

A visit to Georgetown, Colorado three days before Christmas! Cold and beautiful!

Not only have our children known each other all of their lives, two of hers, her daughter-in-law, and our Amanda attended the same Christian college in Ohio during the same period. They hadn’t seen each other in over eight years. We greatly enjoyed watching them catch up, building new memories. Good times.

 

The good times were shaded by the reality that not all in our immediate families were joining us. In 2014, Ruth’s* husband had left her after thirty some years of marriage. Denver became our Christmas and New Year’s destination because we wanted to love, comfort, and support Ruth, as well as her family as possible, especially during this first holiday season in a stunning, new chapter of life. A undesired and painful new chapter.

Paul and I stayed over 2  1/2 weeks, while Amanda stayed one week. Paul did some handy man jobs around the house. We read, prayed, and talked together, shopped, and did some wonderful site seeing. We worked in the kitchen together and ate together. We just lived life together.

Vocation. Voice. Summons. Calling. Vocation presupposes purpose and design and a sovereign God who has not only a macro plan for the world but a micro plan for individuals and intersecting groups. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul “entreats” us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3). Read the rest of the chapter, and you will see that we, the plural, are singular as a body, the Body of Christ. The Lord has designed us for different callings and with different gifts in order that we may equip each other “for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. . .” (verse 12, but keep reading). God designed us to be interdependent and to be totally dependent on Him, while also being unique individuals responsible for our own choices and work. Hmm.

Back to the story. With traveling by car there and back, we were gone almost three weeks. I came home exhausted. My body was so angry with me. Days were hard and nights harder. A sadness came over me with increasing weight. Catching up on all those Christmas letters and pictures opened in one sitting warmed me to hear and see many friends, but it also overwhelmed me. Full families together, smiling. Yes, I know they have their problems. But I thought of Ruth’s broken family.

I also thought of my own family. We did not get to see our other daughter and her family. We did not get to see our grandsons. We’ve never been with them for the holidays. Physical exhaustion and pain lowered my emotional resilience, crumbling peace and acceptance.  I talked to the Lord about all of this.

On a quiet, mental nudge at 7:30 p.m., I called my massage therapist. Normally, I don’t call on a Sunday night. (I avoid intruding into private time.) After 30 some years with fibromyalgia, I’ve learned that massage therapy is one of the few pursuits that helps me. Massage moves toxins so some may be eliminated, and it makes my muscles more pliable, among other benefits. If my appointments aren’t set up in advance, it usually takes a week or more to see her. She comes to my home.

I thought I’d get her answering machine. She answered. After a bit of chatting I asked her, “When is your next opening?” She had none for over a week (as expected), but, oh!, that afternoon, a lady called to reschedule, so Grace had an opening for 12:30 the next day. Her only opening for the entire week or more!

In my shadowy sadness (depression?), I  turned a corner as I saw God’s hand reaching down to touch me. He cares. He’s here to encourage and comfort me — through Grace. Grace, my massage therapist. She named her business “A Touch of Grace.” Her large, beautiful hands were designed by God for such a work, a ministry — a calling.

Here it is. The touch of God through a loving, gifted lady, friend, and sister in the Lord. This touch was a taste of God’s compassion and provision.

In Gene Edward Veith, Jr.’s book, God at Work, Veith states, “The purpose of vocation is to love and serve one’s neighbor. This is the test, the criterion. . . for how to live out each and every vocation anyone can be called to: How does my calling serve my neighbor?”**

My story illustrates this. Paul and I felt called “to love and serve” Ruth and her family. Amanda joined us in this calling. When traveling and being away from home further exhausted and angered my body, Grace through God’s grace “loved and served me.”  God is at work, loving us and providing for us through each other. This is vocation as God intended.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8

 *Not her real name.

** God at Work. p. 39-40. Italics included in the text. Dr. Veith writes four chapters about our various vocations, eleven chapters in all. He answers such questions as, “What are my vocations?”, “Who is my neighbor?”, and “Can we sin against vocation?” We’ll get to such issues in the next several posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Joy & Suffering -- Good & Evil, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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