Many people who know him do not know that my husband, Andrew, is a very talented musician. In 2007 he graduated with a degree in music education. Though piano is his primary instrument, he picked up the clarinet in college and considered pursuing a master’s degree in clarinet performance. Then one day he walked into a auto-mechanic shop to get his car worked on and something shifted. Andrew suddenly had a desire to learn auto mechanics.
He left that day and began praying, talking to friends and mentors, and eventually decided to enroll in mechanic school with a vision of serving God by helping people in a practical way. Andrew suspected that God was calling him into a new pursuit because he felt a sudden strong desire (out of nowhere) to learn about this field. This was a rare occurrence for someone who wanted to be faithful but didn’t have much clarity for what that might look like.
What a huge transition from musician to mechanic! Andrew felt for one of the first times in his life that becoming a mechanic might be a call from God to serve him better. Now, in 2014, seven years later, Andrew is frustrated with the industry. He has been questioning if he is still called or if he is supposed to give it up, go back to teaching music, or maybe find a job with a ministry or non-profit organization. What it boils down to is basically the question, “did I fulfill the calling or is there more out there in the mechanic field?”
Anytime I’m faced with a difficult decision, especially evaluating God’s call on my life, I look to Abraham for guidance and clarity. I wrote recently about what Abraham’s story tells us about why it’s important to wait on God rather than trying to figure out His plan on our own. Another thing I’ve been learning about Abraham’s story is that many times God gives us a vision for our life but doesn’t fill in all the details right away. He often provides clarity over time.
Receiving the Call
God called Abraham with a great big vision–descendants as many as the stars in the sky. What a vast calling! One growing up in a modern day city may not quite comprehend how vast “as many as the stars in the sky,” actually is. Having grown up in the country, however, I find that image quite overwhelming.
Now that I live in the city, I find the night sky rather underwhelming. The city lights dull the brilliance of the stars, masking our eyes from the full picture. One may be able to locate some constellations and a few other stars sprinkling on a clear night but it is nothing compared to that of the country. Country nights contain fewer distracting lights, so the sky shines brighter, the stars are clearer and so packed together it can actually be a challenge to distinguish where one star ends and another begins. This is the sky Abraham saw when God told him, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…So shall your offspring be.” Thinking back to my youth, laying back in the cooling sand of the shores of Lake Michigan on a temperate summer evening as I gazed at the stars, I can’t imagine how overwhelmed Abraham must have felt by God’s plan.
Back in Genesis 12 when Abraham (then called Abram) was first called all God said was,
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Notice God never said how or when, just to go do this thing. I wonder if Abraham even cared about the details at that time. I wonder if he was just so overwhelmed by this amazing charge, if he only had the capacity to process that God chose him and then all the details in preparing his household to leave everything they ever knew in order to follow God’s call.
Abraham and his family set off on their journey and soon they passed through Canaan and God says, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Notice, they just pass through and God basically just says, “oh, by the way, this is the land I was talking about.” They just get a little glimpse of God’s big plan. It isn’t actually until Genesis 15 that any of God’s plan really starts to unfold. Seeing all that happens in the previous 3 chapters, one would have to imagine that at least a few years have gone by. Abraham would have travelled hundreds of miles on foot, they faced hardship which would cause anyone to question what they were doing there, and they made plenty of mistakes. It is through hardship (Abraham’s and Lot’s herdsmen arguing over grazing land), in fact, in which God officially gives Abraham the land of Canaan–the promised land.
Fulfilling the Call
However, Abraham and his household still live in tents, ready to pick up and go at a moments notice. Plus, Sarah had yet to bear him a child in her old age of 75. It is at this point they begin to question God’s calling. In effort to find clarity in God’s calling they try to fulfill it by their own power. They lie, they deceive, and conceive a child outside of God’s will. Essentially, they are stabbing around in the dark for answers and this impatience causes a lot of heartache!
It takes 25 years from the time of God’s calling in Genesis 12, with little bits and pieces of clarity along the way, before the birth of one tiny baby brings everything to light. Once Isaac is born, there are many more challenging years of waiting and trusting God before that one baby could become that vast sky full of stars. It is over hundreds of years, including centuries of God’s silence toward His chosen people, before His plan truly comes to pass with the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is through Abraham’s faith in a vague calling centuries before that the Savior even came to be.
Being Faithful to God’s Call
I read this story over and over and realize that the seven years my husband has been waiting to see what God is going to do with his skills as a mechanic is really a short time. As we’ve prayed about Andrew’s calling into auto-mechanics, we’ve come to the conclusion that we must continue to be faithful. We realized that trying to “make it” as a shop employee was beginning to prevent us from seeing God’s mission fulfilled in truly serving him.
The way the industry works, serving the customer well means choosing to work long exhausting hours without pay. The customer drives off satisfied but the mechanic is burnt out day after day, week after week. Meanwhile, the mechanic’s family (aka me, his wife) is left in constant longing for the front door to let in the weary man. Little time spent together and little time and resources to offer to fulfilling the Great Commission led us to realize something needed to change. So, we are beginning a journey to open up our own shop where we hope to be a blessing to our community.
Since we’ve started this journey, it’s been amazing to see how the little things are adding up to bring clarity to the big things. As we go through this process, we’ve been blessed to have friends and family reach out to offer encouragement and practical help to get it off the ground. We’ve had so many people ask us to let them know when our doors open and for a stack of business cards so they can spread the word.
This adventure is also opening up other opportunities to serve God in bigger ways as it frees up our time and energy for other kingdom building efforts. For one thing, it’s allowing us to serve together with the middle school students at our church. Andrew is also is able to lead music for these middle and high school students. We’re able to spend more time with each other, friends, and family and even be in a better position to begin a family of our own.
Our “Isaac” hasn’t been born yet but I know that if the shop opens its doors and we begin bringing in a steady income we will be praising our Savior, Jesus Christ for allowing us the chance to serve God’s people through it.
How do you cope in times of waiting for clarity of God’s call for your life?