“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” 1 Corinthians 7:17
The diversity of vocations and occupations in the community of believers is huge – almost as big as the global community’s. You or your family are involved in some vocation today from which you draw your living. You, of course, have a calling/vocation as a father or mother, a husband or wife, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a friend. But you are also either an artist, musician, carpenter, builder, doctor, teacher, cook, or one or two of what have you. God called believers to salvation; walk worthy of it. He also placed you in a work environment of some type according to your gifts and His personal choosing; walk worthy of this as well. According to this text and other texts throughout the Bible, God is not random in His assignments. You are where you are by divine purpose. You may not think you are in the work which best utilizes your gifts; in some cases, you may even view it as nothing more than a paycheck. But every honorable profession by God’s estimate gives you an opportunity to glorify Him in your faithfulness to doing well where He has placed you. How do you critique your faithfulness to the calling which God has assigned to you?
Fifty-two years ago, a boy of thirteen walked onto the PAYH campus where God had called him, and he never left. At the time, he had no idea this was God’s calling for his whole life. My wife, Glenda, witnessed all fifty-two years to today of this calling on Eddie Burris’ life. Raised by his grandparents until he was thirteen, when their age and health made them unable to continue, Eddie in the true sense of the word came “home” when he arrived at the Youth Home that Paul and Glenda Anderson established in 1961. Never knowing his mother and having a father who was never in his life, Eddie found a family in the community, the staff, and the boys of the PAYH. Paul became his beloved mentor and father, Glenda his mother, the boys his brothers, and the few girls his sisters.
The Paul Anderson Youth Home released a video last week about Eddie Burris’ ministry to young men over the last fifty-two years. It is well worth your time to view it on our web site. What does commitment and faithfulness to God’s call in his life have to say about a man? It is not just that Eddie accepted God’s call on his life many decades ago and stuck with it, for many people have done that; it is the personal testimony from hundreds of young men who affirm Eddie’s impact for good on their lives, a mentorship that continued long beyond their time at the PAYH.
A critique can be made on your calling by the impact of your example and words on the lives of those around you. Glorifying God in the manner in which you perform your work, being thankful for where God has assigned you, impacting for eternity the lives of your neighbors where you work and where you live, and rearing children to follow in your footsteps of honoring God makes up your critique. Acknowledge His call, persevere in it as long as He keeps you in it, be thankful, watch for what God is doing in and through you, and praise Him. Eddie followed in Paul Anderson’s footsteps, trying to be for the hundreds of young men who God brought to the PAYH what Paul was to him. He watched, imitated, worked alongside Paul and Glenda, and eventually, as Paul’s health failed, helped Glenda with his care.
All this was not lost on the boys who lived here. This was not an 8:00-5:00 job. Eddie and his wife, Betty, lived on the campus, both employed by the Home; theirs was a 24/7 calling, doing everything that needed doing at all times, even rearing their children in their home on the grounds. As the Bible reflects the work ethic God calls us to, “Do not grow weary in well doing,” the work never abated as new boys came and others graduated and moved out into the world.
Even as you retire from your professional calling as aging restricts, the work in God’s kingdom continues in those areas where your heart and mind can still minister to others. Until you draw your last breath, you can still glorify God in the place He assigns you, wherever that may be. You still have a calling until He says, “Enough! Come home.” Eddie’s history and experience with all he has stored in his mind is of continual great value to this ministry to troubled young men and their families. He continues to do in the lives of these young men what he has done for half a century. Is your history and experience in your work in the kingdom of God useful for those who follow? In the recent movie War Room, the lead character continued into old age to look for younger warriors to pick up the baton in this “race of life,” teaching them the things she had learned in the trenches of spiritual warfare. She actively pursued those younger warriors.
Where did God have you assigned in what you considered the “prime” of your life? And what do you consider today to be in comparison to that time? Well, believe it or not, you are still in the prime of your life, even in your 80’s, even in a retirement home. Continue to walk worthy of your calling because today is still the prime of your life, whatever phase you are in. That is how God sees it, and it is how you ought to see it. Make the most of it as long as it is called “today,” for the night is coming when your work will cease.
“Father, I know that all my life is portioned out for me; the changes that are sure to come, I do not fear to see. I ask thee for a present mind, intent on pleasing thee.
I would not have the restless will that hurries to and fro, seeking for some great thing to do, or secret thing to know; I would be treated as a child, and guided where I go.
I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that asked denied, a mind to blend with outward life, while keeping at thy side; content to fill a little space, if thou be glorified.
In service which thy will appoints there are no bonds for me; my secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy children free; a life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty.”
(A hymn written by Anna Waring, 1850)
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