Vocation Needs No Justification
As I watch the world, often those words seem to best capture what I see-sometimes perhaps what is most important to be seen.
How do we make sense of the sweet smile of a baby, the tender embrace of a mother, the passion of a kiss . . . the smell of bread baking and meat grilling . . . the glories of the sea, the sky, the mountains and the valleys . . . the gift of good work that satisfies and serves . . . the ordered safety of street lights and speed limits . . . the wonders of good novels and good music . . . the miracles of X-rays and dental care . . . the bright yellows of daffodils and the pastels of foxgloves . . . the steady support of friends and the enduring affection of a spouse . . . the accountability of justice and the responsibility of citizenship, and on and on and on?
Each are common graces. They do not save us from our sin, but they are gifts from God, and we see them as that. Unless the world is all simply “a bang and a whimper,” in the end only a final sigh, then we have to make sense of foxgloves and friendship. What are they? What do they mean? Why do they matter?
If they are gifts of God, true graces, then it changes everything. Seeing the world in this way makes vocations of all sorts equally important to the work of God in the world, as each one contributes to the common good, to what it is that makes our common welfare a place for more rather than less flourishing. It is a very wounded world, and we are not romantics about the brokenness. There are deep disappointments, far-reaching hurts, tragic injustices-and sometimes all we can do is groan and grieve. But common grace offers a way to understand the meaning of ordinary life day by day, holding in the tension of our hearts the true sadness but also the true joy of life-in one of Bono’s best insights, seeing our vocations as “tearing corners off of the darkness.”
In the life of my friend, Dave Kiersznowski, I see the reality of common grace for the common good. It is a theology I believe, and yet I do need to see it in practice to understand its meaning. The words have to become flesh, and in his life I see not only his, but my own commitments, become a way of life.