Each one of us is born into this world possessing certain gifts and talents. These gifts and talents were given to us by God. They are specific to each and every individual and, along with our own unique appearance and personality, define who we are. We were each created for a purpose. To be faithful to the will of God is to be faithful to who we are, faithful to who we were created to be, and faithful to the gifts and talents we’ve been given. The following anonymous quote says it best: “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God.”
Many years ago I worked evenings as a part-time instructor at one of our local community colleges. I taught classes in machine design. As with any subject, there were always those students who easily grasped the subject matter and these students did very well. There were also those who found the material difficult and these students struggled. Most of my students were young, freshly out of high school. But one year I had a young man in my class who was conspicuously older than my average student. And the subject matter apparently did not come easily to this young man. He struggled to keep up.
One day this young man stayed after class to discuss a particular assignment with me because he was having some difficulty with it. After discussing the topic with him I said to him, “Could I ask you a personal question?” He said, “Sure! Go ahead!” I continued, “You are obviously the oldest student in our class this year. Are you starting a new career? Did you have a profession before this?” He said, “Yes! I was a respiratory therapist; and I was good at it. I worked in a hospital in a midwestern state. I just want to start a new career in life.” So I asked, “What prompted you so seek a new career?” He said, “I was on the blue team. I am sure you have been in a hospital and heard them page, ‘code blue room 232’. That means that there is an emergency in that room and everyone on the blue team is to go immediately to that room. Well one day my team was called to a room and I was the first to arrive. As I entered the room I found a man in full cardiac arrest. Being a respiratory therapist, I immediately started administering C.P.R. Gradually other members of the team arrived and busied themselves with their individual responsibilities. The patient was not responding to the C.P.R., but I know that I could literally keep this patient alive by my continuing to do what I was doing. I feverishly did my best, but the patient was not responding. Eventually the doctor called it and told me to stop. I couldn’t stop, because I knew that if I did stop this person would die, and I literally had the power to keep this patient’s body alive. They told me repeatedly to stop. I ignored them. Eventually they pulled me off, forcing me to stop. I left the room and walked out of the hospital and never went back. A patient died because I stopped doing my job. I just could not accept that responsibility. I could not accept the fact that I literally held the power of life or death, for another human being, in the palm of my hand.”
I thought of that man many times. He did not demonstrate a talent for the design or engineering field, but he himself admitted that he was a good respiratory therapist. And he obviously had deep compassion for those in his care. It was obvious to me that his calling was to be a respiratory therapist. The skills that he possessed said that’s who he was, that was his calling in life. Yet he was attempting to run away from that calling because he feared the responsibility. And it made me wonder, how many of us spend a lifetime attempting to abandon our calling for one reason or another.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable of a man with two sons. In the story, the man asks each of his sons to go and work in the vineyard. One says yes, but doesn’t go. The other says no, but goes to work there anyway. Then Jesus asked the question, “Which of those two brothers did his father’s will?” (Matthew 21:31) We all know that we are to live our lives doing God’s will. We can easily be faithful to the will of our Heavenly Father by simply being loyal to who we were created to be and following our calling in life by making use of the gifts and talents God gave us. To abandon that calling is to deny the authority of our omnipotent God who gave us these gifts and talents for a purpose.