If you’re serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world. – John 7
I graduated from college with a retail merchandising degree. I really wanted to be a store manager and actually had secured a job (before graduation) with a luxury retailer as their cosmetics assistant manager. However, EVERYONE else in my graduating class wanted to be buyers. Didn’t that sound more exciting? Wouldn’t that make more money? Wouldn’t that look and sound WAY better when talking to other people? So I went to the group interview that a very large corporation held for all of their intro buyers. I remember it being a long day of test taking and group interviews. I ended up not getting the job. EVERYONE else in my graduating class seemed to get it. I was so incredibly sad. I felt as if everyone was probably talking about how stupid I was and wondering why would I want to just be a manager.
I ended up securing another job with a large hair care and cosmetics company in their corporate offices. I worked my way up the ladder and after 6 or so years I was working in forecasting in their sales department. I thought it was the right choice to take the first available jobs that would allow me advancement which meant: more money, more prestige, a better job title on my resume. Unfortunately I was not at all happy with the job itself. It was a lot of numbers, a ton of spreadsheets, and LOTS of time looking at one or both of them on a computer screen and not much else. Luckily I owned a tiny flower business out of my home. It was the small amount of weddings and holiday arrangements I created and delivered that helped ease my discontent with my corporate career.
That’s when a department head from the University I graduated from contacted me. She wanted me to come and speak to one of her intro college classes about my corporate job and my flower business. I was thrilled that she would ask me. Why wouldn’t I love to show the world how far I had made it?
I realized that day how much I disliked my job. I had to fill 60 minutes with an explanation of what I did all day to an auditorium of 18-20 year olds. I failed miserably. At the time, I felt like I did nothing all day, and I’m pretty sure they thought the same thing after that torturous hour of my “speech”.
I was struggling. I was struggling between what the world thought was success and what God had created me for. I was stomping down the plans God had for me, with what the world thought instead. The thing is, I wasn’t a failure. God was trying to get me to see my gifts. He had helped me build my flower business from scratch, which should’ve been the first clue.
I was also struggling with the talk I thought was circulating around my community. How if you were creative and needed to do things with your hands you were looked down upon. If you were successful in the corporate world you were looked on as smarter. These were worldly lies that I allowed to take precedence over my life. I allowed the worldly ways to push me into things that were never going to make me happy because they were not allowing my true God given gifts to come through.
In our reading today Jesus is being pushed back and forth. A struggle between his God given purpose and where the world thought he should be. A struggle that is so relatable for you and I.
Later Jesus was going about his business in Galilee. He didn’t want to travel in Judea because the Jews there were looking for a chance to kill him. It was near the time of Tabernacles, a feast observed annually by the Jews.
His brothers said, “Why don’t you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do? No one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes. If you’re serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world.” His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn’t believe in him either.
Jesus came back at them, “Don’t crowd me. This isn’t my time. It’s your time – it’s always your time; you have nothing to lose. The world has nothing against you, but it’s up in arms against me. It’s against me because I expose the evil behind its pretensions. You go ahead, go up to the Feast. Don’t wait for me. I’m not ready. It’s not the right time for me.”
Jesus struggled with doing things at the right time (God’s time) and doing things at the world’s time. But he always made the decision to do things in God’s time. Even those people that were suppose to love him; his own family, were pushing him towards doing things for the world. Jesus struggles were amped up even further because now he HAD to fly under the radar of those who wanted him dead. He indeed had a purpose to teach here on earth but in doing so would be a direct threat to his life. And he still went ahead with God’s plan in God’s time.
He said this and stayed on in Galilee. But later, after his family had gone up to the Feast, he also went. But he kept out of the way, careful not to draw attention to himself. The Jews were already out looking for him, asking around, “Where is that man?”
There was a lot of contentious talk about him circulating through the crowds. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” But others said, “Not so. He’s selling snake oil.” This kind of talk went on in guarded whispers because of the intimidating Jewish leaders.
It has taken me just about 44 years to realize that God created me with my own set of gifts. These gifts are what I need to accomplish hospitality and care and love for others in exactly the way I was intended to. I write, I serve, I cook in order to fill others hearts and spirits. That is my purpose. I have even found a job assisting the chef of a catering company which allows me to use my gifts for an even broader purpose! And you know what? It’s so peaceful knowing that I’m finally doing something I was designed for.
There will be a constant struggle in this world because we are human. But we don’t have to teeter totter anymore between God’s way and the world’s way. Don’t let anyone push you towards anything that isn’t God’s way.