I thought God had plans to prosper me, but things haven’t seemed to work out the way I thought they would. The fact that I see this, in retrospect, as more truly in the character of God than if my expectations were met is not evidence of God to a unbeliever, but if you do know God, then you know what I am talking about. This seems to be one of those inside clues telling me that He is at work; the still, small voice of God that defies expectations and carries the weight of Glory.
This is, perhaps, what the Taoist means when he says, “The Tao that can be written is not the real Tao.” The God that has allowed Himself to be captured in the written Word is, in fact, the real God, but if the Word alone were enough we wouldn’t have needed the Word made flesh.
I am an investor in a few small ventures. I work a full-time day job and I moonlight as some kind of entrepreneur, trying to make a stamp of my own. What attracted me to entrepreneurship was the opportunity to grow; to flex those underdeveloped muscles that make life interesting. I wanted to create, to influence, and to innovate.
The earliest days of business development had much of this. Every decision was new, and the novelty of otherwise mundane work was exciting. This excitement had a strange effect on my day job; the brightness of the new work made the old work seem that much more dull and tired. My perspective changed and I felt like my calling was now in the new work.
Looking back now, I can tell you that it wasn’t. The ventures continue with some failure and some success. But, I have an altogether new perspective on both the new and old enterprises: neither of them are my calling.
My calling, if it can be called “mine” at all, is in the people with whom I work in my sometimes tired and dull day job; I am called to the people in my sometimes novel and exciting ventures. The people, not the novelty or innovation or even the money, are all that go on past this nonsensical, unpredictable, unfair life. They are the only thing that is not a thing; the only consumer in a world of consumption.
That seems like an easy thing to say and a lesson I should have known, but it isn’t and it wasn’t. Sure, I could’ve told you that before this all started years ago and I would’ve been sincere about it, but I have learned that I don’t really often know what I mean when I say things and even when I do I only think I believe them.
The Gospel plants a wedge between the kingdom I seem to be made to pursue, and the kingdom God wants me to pursue. The brutality of the wedge gives way to the tenderness and gratitude of looking over my shoulder at the pain and discouragement and loss and knowing that God was right all along. That rarely seems to mean that He’s shaking His head and sighing, “Oh what a mistake that was, boy.” The work is good, in spite of my wrong-headedness.
So, now, on to today’s work.