Sometimes you have to be careful about what you ask for.
It was a cold November morning in 1977, and I was working for the City of Lansing on their street patch crew. Our job that day was burning high spots off the asphalt pavement. To do this, we used a hand-held burner attached to a kerosene tank, which was strapped to the rear-end of a dump truck. The four-foot high tank had a hand pump on the top; it was my responsibility to keep the tank pressurized to run the burner.
During that time I was looking to transfer to another department; and since I had an interview scheduled, I was praying about it. In fact, as I was standing in the bed of the truck pumping up the tank, I was asking God to lead me in the matter.
That's when I got my answer.
At the precise moment I was praying, the welds on the bottom of the tank gave way and the tank shot up like a missile, bursting into flames. I was blown upward and back to the front of the truck bed, and surrounded by flames, dove over the side to avert being burned alive.
Miraculously, though my eyelashes and eyebrows were signed from the flames, and my clothing satuarated with kerosene, I did not catch fire. My only injuries were a broken wrist and a few lacerations.
It took surgery and six months for my wrist to heal, and during that time I did considerable thinking and praying. One day I received the 'call' to start a painting business.
Thankfully, prayer is not always answered in such a dramatic way. With me however, there is no other way I would have chosen to start my own company - especially a painting business!
Truth is, everyone has a work to do, a purpose unique to him, one that fits the overall plan of God. Someone has to paint buildings; this is what I was picked to do.
Not all hold this view however, that there is a divine purpose for our work. There is this dualistic mindset that separates things secular, like work, from that which is deemed sacred. The Judeo-Christian ethic, upon which our economic system is predicated, teaches that man is made to work. It is this belief - that work is sanctified, which gives meaning to the most menial of jobs.
Martin Luther put it this way: "The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone."
And so all life is sacred, including its occupation. There is no dichotomy of callings; all are called and to each is given his or her assignment in life. Jesus - he was a carpenter. Peter, his right-hand man, a fisherman. Luke, who wrote The Gospel of Luke, was a doctor. The apostle Paul, a tent maker.
Me, I was called to be a painting contractor.