I once heard a speaker say, “What would you do if money were no obstacle?” His goal was to get his audience to dream about why God had made them and to passionately pursue that as a vocation. For many people, I included, that question can lead to fantasies of living on a Caribbean island living a life of leisure and fun – not thoughts of living the life God intended for us.
Recently I have been pondering why money has become such an obstacle in the first place. For some, it is the excess of money that traps them into a life sucking job they hate. For others, it is the inability to find meaningful work that pays enough to support them and their family. Far too often, however, most of us simply assume that the things we really like to do can only be a hobby or a sideline to the daily grind we are destined to deal with in the “real world”. For a long time, I bought that lie too.
Sure, going to college, studying business, getting a job in human resources and getting married provided a certain level of satisfaction. The jobs I held provided increasing responsibility, productive work, and eventually the vocational autonomy I had been hoping for. I quickly learned that God does not always place obstacles in our way to get our attention. Sometimes, he allows success and worldly accolades to be a part of the plan too.
At some point along the way, the questions started. Is this all there is? Is this what I am destined to do for the rest of my life? Is this really why God made me? The answers to these questions were too painful to deal with as I evaluated my heart motives for the life I had created. Money did matter to me and I wasn’t ready to part with it so easily. Despite this, the questions kept gnawing at me in the deep of the night.
So what was the alternative? Was God really calling me to give up my career, my home and my life as I knew it? (Before I go on, I must be clear that the way God worked in my life is not a blue print for everyone. God’s plans for us are like snowflakes, every one is unique.) What I did know was that God was challenging me not to just give him my stuff, e.g. my time and treasure. He wanted me, all of me, my talents and gifts, my energetic personality, my failings and my weaknesses. He wanted everything and I was not ready to go there. Couldn’t I just keep some of me to myself?
Ironically, I had seen my parents and grandparents trust God for all of their financial needs and He had provided. Maybe He hadn’t provided in the way I thought He should, but He had taken care of us. Could I ever trust God in the way they did?
I recently finished reading Mark Batterson’s new book, All In and was deeply challenged by his words. In my late twenties, I did sell my house, change careers and become a missionary. I am doing what I love – serving, leading, reading and recommending life changing resources, publishing great books, and going to places I never dreamed I would. As I look back, it would be easy to give the impression that I did cash in all my chips and that would only be partially true.
My sense is that no matter what we think we are surrendering to God, there is always more that He wants. Nothing is off limits. While I used to think that going all in with God would mean a life of fulfillment and joy (and it is), I hadn’t counted on all the methods he would use to take me there. Joy often comes on the other side of suffering and fulfillment can sometimes follow failure. What I do know for sure is that God does want us to passionately pursue Him and He will shape our lives in ways we would never expect and will never regret.