Saturday, March 25, 2006

Find Your Bliss

Friday, March 24, 2006 -- -- Week of 3 Lent

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 955)
Psalms 88 // 91, 92
Genesis 47:1-26 1 Corinthians 9:16-27 Mark 6:47-56

I think it was Joseph Campbell who first caught my attention with the appeal -- "find your bliss." Look for some form of endeavor that so captures your spirit, that you can spend yourself in it and be refreshed rather than spent. That is your calling. Another teacher I recall urged students not to look for a job that would just make them money, but first find something that they love to do, something they would do if no one paid them for it, and then figure out a way to make a living doing that.

Paul feels that way about his vocation to proclaim the good news that he has experience in Christ. He wouldn't be happy doing something else -- "Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!" His sense of calling is so strong that it feels like an obligation. It's not work, he says, it's who I am and what I do. Telling about this good news is its own reward.

Paul took that one step further. Maybe because he didn't want it to seem like a job, or maybe because his experience of the grace of acceptance was given to him so freely, he chose not to make his living that way, not to make money through his preaching. He's got a right to be paid for his church work, but he doesn't act on that.

Instead he makes a living at his former trade as a tentmaker. And he reaches out with extravagant generosity to give the good news to others. He's willing to meet them in their own skin. He connects with people within their own context. He will observe the Jewish law when communicating with Jews. He will practice the customs of the Gentiles when visiting with them. He is free to be with people in their own environment, accepting them as they are, in order to share with them this amazing gift of grace freely given. That's his bliss. You can't pay him for it.

What's your bliss? I heard of an inner-city agency that worked with unemployed young adults. Their strategy was to find out from their clients what it is that they loved to do. What unique gifts and activities motivate and energize them. Sometimes it took a lot of patience and encouragement to discover their bliss. Sometimes it was immediately evident. Once they found a client's bliss, then they turned on the creative juices. How can this person make a living doing what they love to do? One by one they figured something out. Then they helped the person get established in their work. It was incredible.

Find your bliss and live it. I'll bet Paul's work making tents was completely changed when he started doing it in order to enable him to give away his proclamation of the good news. Time flies when you're having fun.


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