Devotion by Carol Powers, President of the Congregation.
Read Acts 9:1-22.
In this season of Lent, we’ve heard devotions on vocation as it relates to our station in life. I want to explore this idea in more depth and relate some of my own personal experience of how the two intertwine.
I spent the first 25 years of my work life (station) in support roles. From Secretary to Administrative Assistant to Executive Assistant, my job was largely supporting and executing other decision makers’ work. Although this work had its rewarding moments and I made some lifelong friendships along the way, after reaching the “top” of the administrative support ranks, I found myself with daily frustration. My station had become very boring to me. I think it’s important to note this lack of fulfillment in my work led to other problems. Daily droning after work to my husband about the unhappiness of the day, reduced self-esteem from not feeling worthy of other jobs, and frankly a pretty healthy pity party focused on myself. As Ananias was doubtful of how Saul could be of any help to the Kingdom of God, I was doubtful that I could make a change in my life that could be significant.
Nevertheless, like Saul’s experience of moving from a place that felt dark and empty, God had plans for my life and it was going to change my station and vocation in many ways.
There is a clear picture in my mind the night Craig said to me stop griping about work and do something about it! There were words like, “I can’t,” “I’m too old,” “the kids are too young,” – I had all the reasons it wouldn’t work. But I really think God was in our midst that night to encourage me to try a new station (occupation) in life, one I had been drawn to for a long time. It was that night I decided to return to school to just try out engineering and see if I could actually become a civil engineer.
Returning to school with a full-time job and a young family was not easy and it took about 7 years to finish the classes I needed. As the long nights of studying persisted and the kids were growing up, I was pretty bummed about how long it was taking. The scales didn’t fall off my eyes like Paul and immediately a new life was bestowed. It was more of a journey (a slog at times), but one the Lord had His hand in all along the way.
We moved churches and started attending Mountain View during this time and went from being fairly passive church goers, to feeling the call of discipleship, greater involvement, and growing our tithes. The Mountain View community embraced us and offered words of support and encouragement each time we gathered. Pastor John was also instrumental in building my confidence and identifying that serving at church as a leader was likely part of my vocation, which I had never considered before.
And I learned the station I had chosen, engineering, is an occupation of service as well. (I thought it was just math!) Consider the Oath of the Engineer:
I am an Engineer. In my profession, I take deep pride. To it, I owe solemn obligations.
As an engineer, I pledge to practice integrity and fair dealing, tolerance and respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and dignity of my profession. I will always be conscious that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making the best use of the Earth’s precious wealth.
As an engineer, I shall participate in none but honest enterprises. When needed, my skill and knowledge shall be given, without reservation, for the public good. In the performance of duty, and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give my utmost.
The 7 years I had previously lamented about were starting to make sense. God was working in me and through those around me to reveal this new station in life overlaid with vocation of serving the neighbor. Maybe my transition wasn’t as dramatic or fast as Paul’s, but I do think sometimes we have to make changes in our own lives to live out vocation. When I look back at the time of my old career, my focus was inward, “how do I get through another day.” As I finished school, it became clear to me, even desirable to embrace serving community, the church and the neighbor.
My hope is this testimony of station and vocation provides some insight into this important topic that affects all of us on a daily basis. I’m thankful God opened my eyes and gave me the strength to make changes that create more possibilities for living into vocation for the sake of the neighbor. And the journey continues… I’m thankful for the love and support I receive daily from my family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ at Mountain View.
Image: “Ananias Restoring the Sight of Saint Paul,” 1631, by Pietro de Cortona.