The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
John knew his purpose.
Jesus knew His name.
Simon, Andrew, James, and John knew their calling.
I am 35. Since I was 18, I have been following what I would call Godly passions, at times impulsively, at times thought through; but my zeal to follow God’s call on my life was most often the driving factor. I was willing to try and go pretty much anywhere, and when I embarked on many of these moves I thought it would be for the rest of my life: from the African Bush to central Asia, to the rural American south. But, for the most part it wasn't until I was 30 that I stumbled into a career that so holistically fit. It was in no way what I could have envisioned when I was 19. The twisting path had somehow added up to this person who wasn't afraid to step into the darkness of the world, and that only becomes more clear the older I get. While I suffered times of extreme burnout and complete loss of who I thought I was, a few things remain, and they have become my roadmap.
When I lose my way, when the darkness threatens to become stronger than the light, the spark of light, the One thing that remains true, no matter how dim it seems, is what I rely on.
I get easily claustrophobic when I do one thing for too long. I thrive on the hope of new, exciting challenges to unpack and figure out. When i found myself working to fight a specific injustice for the better part 5 years, even though I am in a place where things are going better than I ever could have imagined, I hit a wall. Even though I couldn't imagine doing anything else, even though things were going incredibly well in building my dream, it is hard, every day is a grind. I know from experience it will not get easier. I started asking myself “why?” It is hard, lonely, and exhausting, and I'm just tired.
Living into my purpose, like John, is in fact the most fulfilling thing I do. When I live into the name God has given me, I feel at peace. When like the disciples, I respond to the call of Jesus, to follow Him into His work, not knowing the outcome, and knowing there will be a cost, I can get through the grind. It usually is not pretty, and the darkness is always threatening to swallow me. In my weakness, His power can be made complete.
In one of the darkest times of my life, about 3 years ago, I felt the purpose, calling and name for my life from these words of Isaiah. The ones who mourn will be the builders, the repairers. I tattooed
“Rebuilder of Ruins” on my arm, to remind me that I am part of God’s story here on earth. When the desire to follow other callings that may look more fun or more important is testing me, I go back to who God says I am, what in this short life He has whispered to me that I am.
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”
planted by God to display his glory.
They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.