I recently had coffee with a young friend whom I have known for some time. He grew up in a Christian family, but in his twenties strayed from the path he had been taught to follow by his parents and experienced a good bit of the lifestyle of today’s millennial culture.
About three years ago he had a brand new experience with the Lord, and his interests, desires and life goals were changed. He found himself wanting to live a life that would reflect that change and to be with Christians who had a similar desire.
We have gotten together periodically over those three years and it has been amazing to watch the Lord at work in his life. I want to share his experience with you because it reflects beautifully the vision I have been sharing in my blog postings about how God will achieve His ultimate intention through us.
Sam (not his real name), found himself in his late-twenties involved in the prevalent culture of the day—alcohol, drugs and girls—not by design, but by inertia; he just went with the flow of society around him. He was depressed, discouraged and completely defeated, angry at God for his seemingly hopeless state. One day, driving alone in his car, he began to curse and scream at God for the condition in which He found himself. Suddenly, he was on the side of the road, weeping in repentance. God suddenly opened his eyes to his own sin and rebellion. He found himself calling his father and telling him what had just happened to him.
We got together a short time later and Sam relayed to me the story I have just told you. The following three years have been a classic illustration of what I have been relating to you in these newsletters. Sam’s unassuming, normal life, in contrast to Kanye West’s dramatic one, is one with which we can all identify.
Sam is a journeyman in a trade, so he periodically has an apprentice who is learning the ropes of the business from him. One of those was a young ex-con with a decidedly negative outlook on life. Sam would share with me his frustrations as he mentored this guy. They would talk at length as they went about their work, and Sam ultimately heard about his tragic childhood that inevitably laid the foundation for his difficulties as an adult.
I heard all this, not because Sam was telling me about “the ministry I am having in my apprentice’s life,” but primarily his frustration and failure to be patient with his apprentice and his irritating behavior, particularly after hearing of his background.
This young apprentice ultimately became a journeyman and even had an apprentice of his own. Sam was shocked when he came to him and asked him about something Sam had told him so he could relay it to his own apprentice. In their conversations Sam had told him about the men’s group he attended where they would “…confess (their) sins to one another and pray for one another, that (they) may be healed,” and he expressed a desire to be involved in such a group.
Sam now has a new apprentice, not dissimilar to his previous one, and Sam is proceeding as before—just going to work, another day another dollar, “move along, nothing to see here.” However, I see something far greater and more significant; I see Sam as a classic example of how we all “go to work everyday in my Daddy’s business.”
Here’s why: I would hear nothing from Sam when I met with him about his job unless I asked him. What is happening there is no big deal to him, certainly nothing I would be interested in, was his thinking.
However, what I see happening in his life is a big deal; it is what God is after in us all—going about our daily, everyday activities, touching everyone we meet with the interest, concern, and love of God. Nothing less is our heritage. Wherever we go, Jesus goes, because He lives in us—really and truly—and His kingdom rule comes with us!
A couple of weeks ago, when I asked Sam, “How’s it going at work?” his answer was different. He broke into a big smile and said, “Great! The owner of the company called me in and gave me a very substantial raise!” Sam told me, in so many words, that his boss had watched the way Sam worked with the apprentices, loved the way he related to them and didn’t want to lose him. He saw Sam as a very valuable employee! He was shocked.
There it is; Sam at work in Daddy’s business, doing what he has been called to do, and in the process, Jesus is touching everyone he meets there. Sam has been turned loose daily on the world, the construction world, and he has become dangerous to the enemy’s illegitimate claim on that business! He has, unknowingly, unconsciously, and without even wanting to, gotten involved in “the ministry,” just as we eventually all will be.
Can you see all the church getting the message we discussed last week of the two-fold truths in tension—grace and law, gospel and kingdom—and then attacking the world with that understanding? The results will be (and already are!) exactly what is happening in Sam’s life and the lives of many others like him.
Are you beginning, also, to want to join Daddy’s business, just like Sam did? You join by first walking daily by repentance and faith, and then you just continue to do what you always do, but now you are always aware that you are not just doing some ordinary, unimportant task, but you are “building a cathedral,” the kingdom of God, affecting and influencing all you meet!