Romans 12 in the Message Translation: 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
A number of years ago, I worked for Starbucks as a Barista. I loved the job because it played to most of my strengths and gave me a lot of freedom to still be home with my kids for dinner and homework and after-school pickups. Then came the day that I was offered another job as an administrative assistant in an office. While I was totally terrified to try this new career, I knew that it was time to make a move. My last day at Starbucks was a Friday and I started work at the new job the following Monday.
On my way to work for my first day, I felt that it would be cool to be one of the folks in the line for coffee on their way to the office. So I got in line for coffee at my old store; but when I did, I had the most surreal experience. As I surveyed the baristas furiously working behind the counter, I felt as though I had NEVER worked there! It was as if an invisible metal door had slammed shut on that chapter of my life and I couldn’t even identify with the Baristas on the other side of the counter. I still loved them as friends, but recalling the last latte I made behind that counter just three days earlier felt like it was decades in the past. I have never had that severe of a break in my life before. I had no ill feelings about Starbucks or the wonderful people I worked with so it really caught me off guard.
The Apostle Paul had a similar break in his life. He had experienced a dramatic conversion (I sense that Paul’s intensity would not have allowed him to receive Jesus any other way). As I have been reading in the Book of Acts about Paul’s ministry, it’s obvious that he had made a break in his heart from the pursuit of a comfortable, ‘normal’ life. Everything with Paul was 110%. He was not passive or ‘part way in’ in anything he did, from persecuting the first believers prior to his conversion, to being the loudest evangelist for Jesus after his conversion.
He lived among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the bustling and glamorous seaports of his day. He sailed or walked from city to city starting churches, working miracles, encouraging the believers and debating with the non-believers. His whole existence was aimed at one thing: spread the word of the Good News of the Kingdom. He had no other pursuits. He allowed no distractions. He fostered his close relationship with the Holy Spirit to the point that in so many of his quotes, he mentions how the ‘Holy Spirit said this’, or ‘the Holy Spirit directed us to do that’.
As I was thinking about my personal take-away from this observation, I had to question why I feel like Paul and I are different. Why is my mindset one of pursuing a comfortable, non-controversial life, rather than the “all in”, radically out there life that Paul lived? When I got saved, I immediately knew that I was supposed to be radically different from the world and I was. And there have been times throughout my walk with the Lord that I have been aware again that the call on my life is not to blend in but to be separate and set apart. However, over the years, as pressures and disappointments have worked their way into my life, I have felt pushed into a corner. Out of necessity, the time I used to dedicate to ministry has become dedicated to working in an office. And the clear path for what I should do has become, well, less clear..
Have you ever felt that way? Do you ever struggle to recall what your purpose is beyond the day-to-day tasks that drive your agenda? Do you ever wonder why you are settling for a mediocre existence instead of the full-throttle life of faith that Paul demonstrated?
None of these struggles take the Holy Spirit by surprise. Our destiny and our purpose haven’t changed. We can choose today to turn our eyes to Jesus once again and ask the Holy Spirit to begin to speak a ‘now” word into our hearts that will re-fire us, re-envision us and restore the foundations that we might have let go of. What is impossible with man is possible with God. Let’s pray.
Lord, I am asking you to refine my focus and strengthen my ‘voice’. Pull me out of the corner and re-fire me! Jesus, I don’t want to have any regrets at the end of my days that I didn’t live loudly for You. May You give the eye of the tiger like Paul. I receive from You 110% radical zeal and energy that isn’t deterred or diluted by any circumstance. Amen!