Saturday night, Adam and I had the pleasure of experiencing an incredible performance by living legend Sir Paul McCartney! Held at Yankee Stadium, amongst thousands of screaming fans, I found myself awed once again. This was the third time I’ve seen Mr. McCartney in concert and, despite his age and the countless times he’s surely played the songs on his set list, the man puts on an incredible show. His performance went on for nearly three hours, with two encores (the first of which included a surprise appearance by a blushing Billy Joel) and the Beatle did not break for so much as a sip of water. He rocked and rolled and everything in between. He played nearly every instrument on stage, danced with his drummer, joked with the audience and thanked his loyal fans countless times. He is a gracious host and joy radiates from him as he performs.
And for what? Paul McCartney certainly doesn’t need to make money on this tour. He doesn’t need the exposure to keep his career going either. The fact is, Paul McCartney still performs in sold out stadiums for a simple reason: it’s what he was created to do. Reagan and I decided this when we saw him together last Spring in Miami. Just like Saturday, he killed it that night. There was no denying his talent and no denying the fact that God blessed him with that talent.
Now, I’m not sure what Paul himself believes about God. I like to think that he loves Jesus more than life, but I can’t confirm that for certain. I do know, however, that there is something to be learned from the obedience in which he has pursued his passion and fostered his talents with excellence. And although Paul may not be using his ability to reach millions of people by sharing the gospel, God delights in seeing this man live out the purpose which was created for him.
Of course, for those of us who have dedicated our lives to Christ, we know that there’s more. There’s more than just pursuing passion. We know that we are called to pursue our passion so that we may glorify God through it. What a beautiful gift that is in and of itself! God has a plan for each of us, one that is perfect according to His will. One that is filled with purpose, one that is blessed with beautiful talent which bring both pleasure to us and to Him as well. His plan is for Him, His plan is for His Kingdom, His plan is for us, His children. ”‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
This truth is beautiful. And, admittedly, this truth is sometimes paralyzing. Especially to my generation, a generation that has been told since we were children that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. In a worldly sense, perhaps that’s true, but God’s plan for my life has been tailored specifically for me alone. In that, I find hope, but I also find questions and uncertainty. What is my God-given purpose? What is it that God has placed in me alone that will bring Him glory? How do I know what my gifts are? How do I use them and remain a contributing member of modern day society?
Enter the second Paul in this story: Paul of Tarsus. This Paul has a miraculous story of conversion and redemption. A Pharisee turned Apostle. This Paul suffers with gladness. This Paul spends all waking (and many dreaming) moments preaching the Good News of the risen Christ. This Paul impacts the Kingdom of God for forever. And this Paul builds tents.
Paul, the Apostle did not live a glamorous life. He did not have millions of fans. He was persecuted, doubted, hated even, but that did not stop him from pursuing God. He had a miraculous encounter with Jesus and it changed his life for eternity. It caused him to abandon his own plan and choose evangelism. In doing so, Paul’s heart and mind were transformed. He found salvation. His purpose was fulfilled. He greatly pleased the Lord. And this Paul, he built tents.
Although the first Paul in this story is a shining example of living out our passions, it’s the tent building Paul I want to learn from. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reminds his brothers and sisters that God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) He reminds us all that “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
Equipping Christ’s followers with the truth, the Paul that builds tents encourages us to do the same. He encourages us to live lives that reflect God’s grace, love and glory no matter what our 9-5 looks like. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24) I must remind myself of this every time all of those questions stated earlier pop into my head. No matter what it is that God places in my path, I am called to give it my ALL. I am called to serve Christ in ALL that I do.
So, in a world that idolizes the Paul that creates music like no other, I am called to a life of humble service like the Paul that builds tents. I am called to exercise my talents for the purpose of glorifying God. And, when I don’t know what that looks like, or how best to do it, I find hope and encouragement in the words of Jesus: “ Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38) This isn’t always easy and it is definitely a “long and winding road”, but when it all boils down, “all you need it love.” ;)