For nearly four years, I taught at a public high school in Northwestern Indiana. I enjoyed it immensely. I enjoyed the students, the teachers, the parents, the administration, and the local community. It really was a great job. It was the kind of job at which I could see myself retiring.
Outside of work, I was also growing my social circles. I was making friends at my local Masonic Lodge. During the summers, I would volunteer with my local Kiwanis Club and at a Catholic soup kitchen. I was gradually paying off my car and college debt. I started singing at my local Episcopal church, making friends and connections along the way. I was also taking better care of my health and making much needed progress in treating my anxiety and depression. Finally, I was beginning to put myself out into the dating world for the first time in nearly 6 years. I had the idea of one day settling down, finding a wife, and hopefully become a dad.
But deep within, a call to serve God that had been with me since childhood remained. Something from within my soul called me to give up everything to pursue this call. I found a natural ally in the story of St. Francis who likewise gave up everything in pursuit of his calling. I wanted to go out to the world like Francis and preach the Good News. Although he never said it, the often-quoted phrase, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words” seems so much in the spirit of the Poor Man from Assisi. What more important work could there be than to preach the Gospel, to make known to others Him who has brought so much wholeness to my own life?
Despite all I was doing in Indiana, I was still called by God into an even more intense and encompassing relationship with Him. God, it might be said, was jealous. He wanted my all.
Looking back now, I realize it was surprisingly easy to let go of my life in Indiana. Today, nothing seems as important to me as the work I am now doing as a brother. Nothing is as important to me than using my entire self to further the work of building God’s kingdom in whatever form that so happens to take. Nothing is as important to me than giving myself totally to the One who so totally gave (and continues to give) Himself to me.
Brother James Nathaniel can be reached at email@example.com