by the Rev. Jacob SuttonGod changes your vocation. God gives you meaningful employment. God gives you employers and other authorities at work. God gives you governmental authorities. God gives you parents. God gives you a family, spouse, children.
How different are these statements then what is typically heard! “I moved over to this new company last June.” “I finished law school three years ago and joined this firm.” “I met my wife and married her three years ago last June.” “My husband and I have two sons and a daughter.” None of those statements are totally untrue – and most are not said maliciously. Yet is it not funny how the first words out of our mouth when we speak of all of our daily vocations usually starts with the first person singular or plural subject?
I even find myself speaking the same way – “I began studying for the Office of the Holy Ministry four years ago last June.” “We moved to Fort Wayne in 2003 to begin my seminary education.” “I was ordained this past June.”
God is supposed to be the subject of these sentences. He gives us all things. I am therefore slightly off base, although perhaps without intending great and mortal sin. The better way to speak of my recent history: God blessed me by allowing me to begin studying for the Office of the Holy Ministry in June of 2003. Before that, God blessed me with a beautiful and supportive wife in 1999, and God blessed us with the gift of a healthy son in October, 2002.
Since then, God allowed me to complete study at the Seminary, graduate, and has blessed me with a call to be the Associate Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Plano, Texas. Even better, God consecrated and ordained me into the Office of the Holy Ministry here at Faith on June 24, 2007, the Festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. What a gift! What a privilege! God uses a poor, miserable sinner like me to preach and teach His Word, bring His Absolution and peace to His people, feed them with His Body and Blood, wash them with His Baptismal flood.
But you know, even before God granted all these things, He had given me some wonderful vocations. He gave me the vocation of being a dutiful son to caring and loving parents. He gave me to be a loyal brother to two siblings. He gave me the vocation of husband and father. He gave me the vocation of hard-working student in elementary, high school, and college. He gave me the vocation of being a responsible, single adult who was continually gathered around His Word and Sacraments before I was blessed with marriage. After college, He provided for my daily bread by giving me the vocation of Chemist and later a junior-level manager at the same company. In that company, God gave me many opportunities to share the Gospel news of Jesus Christ with colleagues who needed to hear it – in particular a lapsed Mormon and some nominal Moslems come to mind. Because of God blessing me with meaningful employment, He allowed me to be able to support the work of spreading the Gospel to my neighbors through the work of my home congregation and through the Church at large.
Then, God used my dear Pastor in Christ to give me a “kick in the pants.” “You know,” he said quite innocently one day, “you enjoy talking theology and liturgy with me. You enjoy teaching Sunday school. I think you ought to consider the Holy Ministry. I think you have the heart for it.” That’s what it took. A small encouragement, and prayerfully, listening to God’s Word – God changed my vocation, especially in employment terms (!), yet still blesses me with many of those other vocations as well. Notably, God has blessed my wife, son, and I with the birth and Baptism of a second son this summer.
“Do not be anxious” for today or tomorrow, Jesus says. God has promised and given all things to us in our crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that all of us continue to recognize and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the blessings He gives us on account of His Son, no matter what vocations He has ordained to give us. Know God does not give a vocation that you cannot truly handle, because He promises to carry your burdens. Know God can and does keep you safe and secure for this life and the eternal life to come through His pure and no-strings-attached love for us – including His Word and Sacraments, including the employment, authorities, parents, family, pastors, and fellow Christians that He blesses us all with.
Evening and morning, sunset and dawning,
Wealth, peace, and gladness, comfort in sadness:
These are Thy works; all the glory be Thine!
Times without number, awake or in slumber,
Thine eye observes us, from danger preserves us,
Causing Thy mercy upon us to shine.
- Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676, Evening and Morning, LSB #726
The Rev. Jacob Sutton is associate pastor of Faith Lutheran Church & School in Plano, TX. He and his wife Karie have two sons. Incidentally, in recent years, God changed Karie’s vocation too – from teacher to sem wife and part-time teacher, to full time wife, mom, and homemaker.
Created: December 21st, 2007