HEAVEN’S UNEMPLOYED WAITING FOR YOUR MINISTRY THE QUEST FOR FULFILLMENT By Grantley Morris
CHAPTER 1: THE QUEST FOR FULFILLMENT
You are destined for greatness, but live in obscurity. You are on this planet for a purpose, yet your life seems a perpetual groping in the dark.
This book has touched busy pastors’ hearts. That’s bizarre. Obvious achievers on the church’s payroll are nowhere near my target audience. By some strange twist I’ve ended up with a book almost everyone enjoys. Nevertheless, this book is especially for you if . . .
¶ You’ve sung your greatest songs, thundered your finest speeches and touched the largest audience, while having a bath.
¶ You use a toothbrush with three bristles to prolong the most exciting part of your day.
¶ The last time you blessed someone was when you left early.
¶ After gallantly offering heaven your services, a postman sprouting angel wings appears. Trembling with excitement, you read the urgent dispatch:
‘Don’t call us; we’ll call you.’
¶ Having finally left the shelf, you are now out in the cold, sitting on ice on the back seat, contemplating an exciting move to the back burner, where you will remain off the boil until your dog has kittens.
I know the hurts, frustrations and bewilderment of barren years seemingly devoid of any worthwhile contribution to heaven or humanity. Perhaps you are more blessed, but know the disappointment, even the devastation, of a life’s work which is less than you had hoped. Then read on.
Suppress it, pervert it, do what you like with it, you were born to excel.
A new-born kangaroo, blind and hideously undeveloped, inches its way on its critical journey to its mother’s pouch, spurred by some primeval instinct. An inner compulsion lures a moth to a light. Something within a bird stirs it to migrate half-way around the world with astounding precision. We, too, have an inborn urge. It’s goading us to accomplish something of outstanding significance.
Philosopher John Dewey identified ‘the desire to be important’ as the deepest drive within us. I’m told even Freud, despite his preoccupation with sex, identified the desire for greatness as a significant human motivator.1 It surely represents one of our most fundamental needs.
Seeking a cure for cancer, smashing an Olympic record, and defacing a building are instances of the countless, often twisted, manifestations of a hunger divinely lodged within us.
When the light of Christ shines in our lives and divine life is sparked within us, a transformation is triggered, as dynamic and extensive as the one initiated when sperm meet ova. Fuddled minds are sensitized to the Spirit. Divine truths explode within us. Vague urges begin to mature. We arouse to the realization that the craving we were born with is actually a yearning to serve our Maker; a drive to reach our full potential; a yen to materialize our reason for coming to this planet. In short, pulsing within you is a yearning for ministry.
It’s a solemn fact that my only reason for living is to glorify God, and until my calling became reality, the extent to which I had achieved that goal seemed to me infinitesimal. My drive to glorify God was so enormous I am amazed it didn’t kill me. It came close. Since childhood it kept building and building and mostly its fulfillment consistently seemed impossible.
The torment I will soon gloss over dragged on for decades and the pain and soul-withering shame of being single and living with my mother lasted so ridiculously long that it was I my mid-fifties before I ever married. I am still, to put it mildly, socially awkward, and still haunted by inexplicable health restrictions that make me feel a lazy freak. I have, however, come to treasure trials. I wouldn’t swap them for the most stupendous mountain-top experiences anyone has ever had.
You would not believe how dependent I was on reading and re-reading this book day after day, year after year after year. It’s as though God wrote it for me, rather than the other way around.
I was 43 when the Lord finally began to end my frustration and give me the ministry I had unknowingly been preparing for from birth. The moment these opportunities arrived – back in 1995 – I stopped adding to this book. So, except for these few words in italics and the tiniest changes such as removing references to outdated technology, the entire book was written during my dark days. I feel that makes it more authentic.
A nagging issue that kept me from publishing this book is that I could never feel at peace about charging for something that I believe many people need. I kept being told that almost everyone will instinctively dismiss a free book as being of low quality, and I had no idea how to distribute it without the services of a normal publisher anyhow. Finally the Internet arrived, in which distribution is a breeze and it is common for written material to be provided without charge (except for advertisements, which I refuse but the absence isn’t seem particularly noticeable). Suddenly the whole world opened to me. Now, every day, people with all sorts of problems e-mail me. I have written literally hundreds of new webpages but in my reply I often just paste a few appropriate quotes from this book and people write back detailing how God powerfully used the quotes to touch them.
The Lord has given me a tenderness I simply wouldn’t have, had my road been easy. The number of suicidal people who have written amazes me. The fact that I have been there myself gives me the edge. I am now so grateful for my every trial and the seemingly endless preparation.
I can add my wobbly testimony to Scripture’s authoritative declaration that God has answers. Nevertheless, I dare not exalt myself as an example that these principles really work. When all is revealed on Judgment Day there will be so many shocks and surprises that before that cataclysmic Day it is dangerous to guess who is truly spiritually successful and who is fake or self-deceived. So I beg you to do something are more thrilling and fulfilling than to look to a man: seek the heart of God as to whether truths in this book are of him.
Back to the original text:
The problem with rags to riches stories is that I can identify only with the rags. And I have this nagging suspicion that someone experiencing dazzling success soon forgets what wheezing in the smog of despair is really like.
This book is different. I’m not trying to imagine or remember what it’s like to have problems. I’m thrashing about in them.
Can I identify with your frustration? You have a right to know my sob story, but I don’t want your tears getting my book soggy. As we frolic through the gloom in a few paragraphs, laugh with me in celebration of trials heaven intends us to rejoice in, and before you know it, we’ll be in the Son shine. Though in his genius he may hide the surprise twist until the last scene, our Lord specializes in ecstatically happy endings. When we let him write the script we can always chuckle.
When it comes to feeling useless, I’m an expert. In second year high school, my class of forty students had a popularity poll. You already know who came bottom.
It took the first eighteen years of my life to muster the courage to ask a girl – any girl – out. She refused, of course. Once, to my amazement, someone agreed. Instead of being overjoyed, I belly flopped into a pool of pity for her, appalled that anyone could be so lonely as to consider a date with me.
That was my proud, carefree youth. I’ve come down many a notch since then. Depending on the country you’re from, you would call me a dole bludger, a welfare bum, a beggar, or a parasite – of the heavenly variety. I live off heaven’s hand-outs and do nothing in return.
I realize no one can earn their keep spiritually. We could never repay God for the blessings received on the worst day of our life. But you’d think I could at least do a few odd jobs around the place. For excitement I take off my shoes and watch my toenails grow. Every time I call heaven to offer my services the line goes dead. I’m not sure what happens. If only I could hear some celestial music I’d at least know I’ve been put on hold.
Some people collect stamps. I collect dust. My greatest achievements are outstanding – out standing in the rain. If you’ve seen the old television series Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em, you’ll recognize me as the Frank Spencer of the spiritual world.
Things started off so well – born to Christian parents, born again at age eight, sold-out to God, faithfully growing in spiritual knowledge, then four productive years at university in preparation for ministry. (Don’t be put off by my education: the good thing about my IQ is that my only hope of being highbrow is a receding hairline.) University was followed by a year’s missionary work in Asia, after which came Bible college, enhanced by six months with another missionary group, then –
Nothing. Years and years of nothing. Books written which no one reads. Audio recordings made which nobody hears. Failure in every conceivable color. If you’re tired of success stories, you’d find my life refreshingly different.
After years without even secular employment, I finally got a job. Hour after hour, I balanced on a step-ladder, alone in a dust-clogged shed feeding a hungry machine. Five lonely years battling the din and dust of a shredder, filling its deadly jaws with armfuls of paper peppered with broken glass, rotten food and sometimes filth too repulsive to mention. Think of me as a full-time trashman on a part-time wage.
It’s outside working hours that many of us find fulfillment, gleefully chasing challenges. In my case, I’m usually flat out, up to my ears in blankets. Physical limitations confine me to lights out, up to eleven hours a night. When it comes to pursuing dreams I’m in a world of my own. I bring a whole new meaning to the term lay person as I bull-doze through problems, catnap through crises, and hibernate through triumphs. If Christian activists faced the death penalty, my greatest threat would be the electric blanket. With the drive of a V-8 and the fuel tank of a Tinker Toy,a I must be the world’s laziest workaholic, fast becoming the Kingdom’s Rip Van Wrinkle (and that’s no spelling error).
Marriage and family help soothe the gnawing ache, or so I assume. You guessed it. Never married. They say I’m quite a catch. (Not that that’s necessarily bad – most good offers have a catch.) I can’t understand it. I reckon I look better than Casanova. He’s dead. With a few weeks’ exception here and there, ever since childhood I’ve felt certain that no sane woman would want me and/or I’d be a hopelessly inadequate husband.
I see the achievements of people I grew up with and I cringe. At church a stranger introduces himself. I steel myself for the inevitable ‘And what do you do for a living?’ At the door stands a pastor who knows how little I do. I slink out another way. I drive home alone. And agonies.
Envy me if you must, but drop pity. Though the truth keeps hiding from me, with God writing the punch lines, trials are hilarious. I often wish he preferred one-liners, but everything God does is b i g. Year after year he keeps building the tension until all of heaven explodes in rapturous laughter, rejoicing in God’s stunning resolution of the problem. Let’s slip in a few giggles before the big one.
Anyone can miss the boat. I’ve missed the ocean. I’m lucky I found the planet.
I have a passion for a teaching ministry. The only word I’ve ever received from the Lord about it is, ‘Let not many of you become teachers.’a I offered myself to the Lord for full-time service more than three decades ago. My ever-growing longing for it has been as productive as a desert in a drought.
Then, after most of this book was written, I turned a corner. And hit a wall. I was thrust into a new job, making my former ‘purgatory’ seem like paradise. Previously, my body was enslaved in degrading work, but my mind was almost free. Now they’ve got my mind as well. My ability to write has been mauled. Though writing to a non-existent audience is more therapy than ministry it seemed the one twig in my hand buoying my head above the fierce, grey waves of utter despair.
A young woman, attractive and popular, lit a match and plunged into lifelong darkness. Gas had been seeping into the room. The explosion ripped through her, searing and pulverizing a once-normal body. It hurt to see her plight. My greatest battle, however, was not fighting tears of compassion, but envy. Had I suffered like her I would probably receive a small pension and so, despite enormous restrictions, I might have more time to write.
I get a little negative at times. I once applied for a job at a local Psychiatric Hospital. The interviewers wanted someone with the ability to relate well with depressed, psychotic patients. As they showed me the door they mumbled something about me being over-qualified . . .
Then, while swirling in the vat of squashed hopes and crushed dreams, it slowly dawned that I’m not floating with the scum of humanity, but with its cream. I peeked at heaven’s unemployment records. You wouldn’t believe the big names they’ve had on their files. Scripture and the tomes of church history bulge with stories of spectacularly successful people who spent years languishing in heaven’s job line. I’ve uncovered facts that affirm the light at the end of my tunnel isn’t a freight train – it’s sparkling success, glorious fulfillment. After years of prayerful seeking I’ve received answers with the power to revolutionize both your life and mine.
God is making a smart cookie. If I’m covered with spilt milk, that’s marvelous. If there’s egg on my face, it’s a bonus. If I’m mixed up, I’m delighted. If I’m beaten, I’m making progress. If the heat is on, I’ll warm to my task. If I’m half-baked, something good is cooking. When I feel I could crumble, I’m nearing perfection. Everything is going my way.
I haven’t been feeling myself lately. Everyone’s noticed the improvement. If the secrets I’ll share fill me with joyous expectancy, imagine what they’ll do for someone as normal as you.