No matter your gender, occupation, culture, the color of your skin or circumstances, you most likely want to know what your purpose is. You may not even have a belief in God, but somehow you want a “higher-power” to speak up so you can live a life that’s meaningful.
Peter, our second son of four, is in the U.S. Navy and presently wondering what specific job he should commit to and be trained for. He’s been a seaman for almost a year, and it’s been a good experience, but it’ll soon be time for him to make a decision.
The journey hasn’t been without some waves of frustration and anxiety. Peter, like so many of us, may not know what tomorrow holds, but he knows who holds tomorrow. When your “higher power” is Christ the Lord, you eventually realize that life is more about serving others than serving yourself. Peter has a relationship with God, not a religion of dos and don’ts. God knows us strong-willed types don’t do well with “you should” or “you better.” He’s found a church, has a mentor and is in a men’s Bible study.
It’s not an easy route when the world entices you with what gives the most pleasure, especially for a young man in the military. But prayer works. We prayed Peter would “enter through the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)
Peter and I rarely get to talk on the phone, but when we do, I ask him what he needs prayer for, specifically. He always asks me to pray for his division and ship. The last time we talked he lamented, “Mom, I’m struggling. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life.” I reminded him of James 1:5: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
Peter and I both understand that having a belief in God is not the difficult part. The difficult part is trusting in God alone when your feelings and circumstances are all over the place. God also admonishes, “Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” Appropriate for a sailor.
We so often have FOPO (Fear of People’s Opinions) exacerbated by social media. Social media propagates the lie that we are what we do, that our worth comes from what we produce, not from who we are. I know who I am in Christ and that my identity comes from Him, but I’m human, too.
Peter has taken up the habit of reading a verse of the day on his phone as a simple way to hear a word from God on a daily basis. He started to share this with some of the sailors, but then stopped because he did not want to offend anyone. Three days went by and on the third day with no verse from Peter, three different guys at three different times came up to him and said, “What the hell, Griffith? Where’s the verse of the day?”
“What was cool, Mom,” Peter said, “was that right before bed that night this one guy came to me and said, ‘I’m not a Christian and I don’t even know if I believe in God, but I gotta tell ya there's something about hearing that verse of the day that makes a difference. Keep it up.’”
And so he has. There you have it. Christ is there on that ship with those sailors. He’s a living God and so is His word living and active, because the word became flesh and dwelt among us. In Isaiah 55:11 we see that God’s Word (the verse of the day) won't return to Him empty but will accomplish everything He purposes it to do. Amazing. There’s nothing we could do to earn His love and nothing we could do that would cause Him to stop loving us. His love never fails, even though we may.
Peter called again, and this time he said he had an idea of what job he might pursue. “It’s called an RP, Mom, and it’s a person who helps a Navy Chaplain.” I looked up the definition and it reads, “Religious Program Specialists (RPs) serve God and country. They prepare devotional materials, organize faith-based events, maintain religious records, and serve as a source of personal security for Navy Chaplains.” Snap. Who knew?
God knew. Because He created Peter, and you and I. God doesn't want to hit you over the head with His law but wants to embrace you with His grace. It may work or it may not, but deep in his heart I know that Peter knows He’s called to serve others in love with the gifts he’s been given.
We are here to worship God, and He came to redeem, forgive and save us. God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called for the purpose He knows best where you and I fit. There is an end to this earth experience, but with Christ there is truly a new beginning eternally, where everything is perfectly real and forever wonderful.
WRITER’S NOTE: Peter currently is deployed overseas and we’re not privy to his location. Let’s be thankful for all military who serve our country. God bless and protect them.
This column is a regular feature on the Detriot Lakes Tribune's monthly Faith page. Debbie Griffith is a Detroit Lakes-born speaker, radio personality and writer who now resides in International Falls, Minn.