Just recently, amidst the chaotic headlines of monkeypox, political drama, and the NFL pre-season, a little-known Christian pastor, theologian, and author passed from this world into the next, at the age of 96. His name is Frederick Buechner, the author of 39 published books.
I share this because Buechner was a writer, who unbeknownst to him, profoundly shaped my thinking and understanding of the gospel and what it means to be a lover and follower of Christ. In my young days as a believer, someone gifted me a ragged copy of Buechner’s book, ‘Wishful Thinking’, which showed me a lot about applying the basic principles of God’s love to my everyday life and thinking and dreaming.
I could go on for pages on all the ways something Buechner wrote or said spoke volumes to me. Instead, I’ll share just one that I hope brings the joy, release, and fresh perspective to you that it did to me the first time I read it. Regarding uncovering our purpose in life and vocation Frederick Buechner said,
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deepest hunger meet.”
If we can agree (and I think we can) that the deepest hunger of our world is the need for Jesus, then the point where that which brings you the most joy intersects with introducing others to the One they hunger for is where you and your heart belong. That can mean an actual vocation, or a call to full time ministry or mission work, but it might not be that complicated. What’s that hobby, pastime, or skill that brings the biggest smile to your face every time you get to do it?
I think of the guy I knew with a love for model trains – he asked for an empty back corner of a church room to build a model railroad, and invited neighborhood kids to come help him out. Within months, that ministry grew to impact countless kids with the Gospel. Then there is the lady I bumped into one time at a local hospital who loved flower arranging. She worked out a deal with a local florist to get the flowers that didn’t sell, created arrangements with them (including a Bible verse), and gifted them to hospital patients whose rooms looked a little drab. The conversations she got to have with people who were hurting and vulnerable meant eternity became real for some.
If you’re asking yourself, “Is this really what I’m made for?”, my prayer is that Buechner’s words provide a bit of a compass toward the answer for you. It’s never too late – both my model train friend and the flower lady were in their 70’s when they finally found their special place in the Kingdom. And both would tell you, there is no feeling in all that we as humans feel that is quite as joy-filled as doing that thing He’s created you to do.
Brand Director, STAR 99.1