Francis Schaeffer was highly influential in how I see the world. In upper-level courses at college I was taking a course where we basically read prolific religious authors and wrote papers on their works. Most everybody picked C.S. Lewis based on available library resources, but the guy mentoring me in my faith thought it’d be good to read all 21 books the “missionary to the intellectuals” authored and discuss them over coffee. So, we did.
In the introduction to one of the books Dr. Schaeffer mentioned a crisis of faith he experienced after roughly 10 years of being a pastor. He took a birds-eye view of himself and his people. He took a look at what the Bible said should be true of those who follow Christ, and found both himself and the people he served wanting in that regard. His response was that he re-thought his entire philosophy of life. Does God exist? If so, in what form? Yep. He went all the way back to his agnosticism and re-thought it all. He even mentioned that when the weather was poor he’d pace back and forth in a barn. That image stayed with me.
And several people have asked me if my current experience as an unemployed professional Christian has caused that kind of situation for me.
Thankfully, the answer is that is hasn’t.
First of all, I have seen evidence of those things the Bible says should be true in the lives of the people I served. Granted, there were those folks that you walked alongside for over a decade who didn’t grow as fast as you thought they might. Or some didn’t grow at all. Some took significant steps backward. Sure. All that was true. But there were also those folks who surprised you with how fast they grew in their faith in six short months. Some grew a ton. Some took significant steps forward. In sum, I had plenty of evidence that God was at work among the folks I served.
Yes, I saw evidence in my own life of that, too. Sure, I had moments of stupid-head. But I also had moments where I couldn’t deny that I’d changed, too. To top it all off, sometimes I’d dig through an old journal and be wowed by how much God had changed my thinking in a particular area or whatever. It wasn’t as quick or meteoric as maybe I’d wanted it to be, but slowly and surely it was there. I could sense it at the very least.
But then again, I’ve always had a sensitivity to the work of God in my life for as long as I could remember. Maybe it’s a product of becoming a member of the Tribe at a very early age, but walking with God has always been my style. I mean, my character in Dungeons & Dragons (don’t judge me, I was a kid in the late ’70’s) was always a cleric. I’ve always had a church family to live this life with–the good and the bad. When my dad died at age 36 it didn’t cause any dark night of the soul where I doubted the existence of God. Just the opposite, in fact. I made a deal with Him to just stay on our respective sides of the universe. When the greatest high-school girlfriend of all time ended our relationship, I spent more time moping and praying than dealing with any existential angst. It’s been a four-decade walk…but I never felt a need to go back and re-think from the beginning. My starting point was much further down the line.
So, when I read the appendix of What Color Is Your Parachute? and the author (a former pastor) stated that a time of unemployment could be an excellent time for re-focusing your relationship with God, well, it was putting words into how I’d already viewed this season in my life.
Rather than pacing back and forth in a barn and thinking deep thoughts, I’ve been sitting in coffee shops and journaling thoughts along the lines of the abundant life.
I mean, isn’t that why Jesus said He came? Well, it’s what He said in John 10:10, anyway.
To give life. And life with abundance. And I’m of the understanding that phrase includes the life we’re currently living as well as our future existence with Him in the Kingdom.
Given that understanding, I’d love for all you patrons to pour a cup of coffee and tell me what you think makes up this abundant life Jesus talked about. If you’re not “there,” what steps do you take to get “there?” As a side question, what role do you think your occupation plays in that life? If you’re feeling especially adventurous, tell me what you’d like to see professional Christians play in serving you as you try to live abundantly.
Yep. Those are the questions I’m wrestling with and will be sharing as I walk along week 2 of trying to find the next steps…
…so, have at it, patrons!