I’m not sure if this is a waste of internet but I like to put my thoughts down. I used to do it fairly regularly but hadn’t really done it consistently for a while. When I started reading this book, The Spirituality of the Cross by Gene Edward Vieth Jr., I felt like jotting some thoughts down about it. I didn’t expect to write as much as I have, but I’ve enjoyed doing it, for what that’s worth. Hopefully, someone out there is reading what I have to say, but if not, that’s OK too. In the slight chance that you are, shoot me a line or post a comment and let me know what you think.
So, here I am, chapter 4 completed. My enthusiasm for this book yet to wane. This chapter speaks to the issue of vocation and it’s probably a different take on “work” than what you might normally hear in the regular christian circles. The author has also elaborated on this subject in another book he’s written solely on the issue of vocation called God at Work. You can see what that book is about here.
Upon reflection, this topic seems to be an extension of the previous chapter’s subject of the hiddenness of God. That God is present in the everyday ordinary things of life. This is more about God providing for people in the everyday acts or work that is done(farmers, doctors, builders), than what we normally equate as “acts” of God, such as supernatural, extraordinary things that defy the normal logic of life. The idea that whatever you do for a vocation is a “mask of God” is not a normal topic within mainstream Christianity and is not very alluring, especially when so many people are being told to look for or expect big, huge movements of God. Simply put, God does heal using a doctor, he does provide milk by way of a farmer and gives you money to pay your mortgage when you work.
Luther states that God works through the earthly realm by vocation. He is present in all of it, using it to provide providentially not just for believers but unbelievers as well. According to Luther, there are different areas of vocation, four to be exact. He’s called us to each of them and they overlap one another. Whether it’s in the realm of family, workplace, citizenship or christian love, we are all called to serve in the vocations of husband, wife, parent, child, brother, sister, employer, employee, state and country residents. Most of all we are called to serve in all these areas under the banner of christian love. There is no one or the other. Christian love will hopefully compel us to serve family and neighbor, boss or staff.
This is a wonderful understanding of God being at work in our regular everyday lives. For me it’s a reminder that He is intimately involved in every aspect of what goes on in our lives. I keep going back to the old idea that we need our “spiritual eyes open” to God to know when He is moving or shifting things in “our favor”, but by the reality of vocation, He is always working and we don’t need to focus on that one big thing, or try to “tune in” to what He is doing. God has blessed us with construction workers, when something needs to be built, electricians when something needs to be wired and even attorneys when we need counsel. This does not diminish God in my eyes, as if I am settling for the everyday things, but enlarges Him to know that He is truly using all of it, from the police officer to the sanitation worker. Knowing God is using my work as a mask for His provision actually encourages me.
Sometimes its difficult to see this in our own lives because of the burden of feeling as if you’re doing something less than noble or worthy. But even those in the most prestigious positions go through the, “is this all there is” moments of life. These difficult moments in our lives have also been nailed to Christ’s cross for our benefit. He bears ALL of our burdens on his cross and this is just one more. Let those difficult feelings and struggles bring us to humility before him so that our faith might be built up during that time. Faith allows us to see our vocations as those masks of God, our struggles within those vocations as opportunities for faith to grow as it becomes a cross comprehended in the saving cross of Christ.
Praise God in all the vocations that He has placed in your care and let love guide you in all of them and His grace cover you when you struggle in them.