When we feel, however, that in our lives we are neither on a vacation nor able to fulfill our vocation, what then?
Perhaps we are at a loss for words. Perhaps we are so dis-spirited and dejected that we feel hopeless and without purpose and meaning. Perhaps our spirit can do nothing other than cry to God for help: ‘Abba! Father!’
Saint Paul had something to say about that: When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spiritbearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God … (Romans 8:16)
The very fact that we turn our selves to face God, the very fact that we think about God – good or bad thoughts! – the very fact that we lift our hearts to God even in pain and suffering, is God’s Spirit touching ours. We are indeed ‘children of God’ before we do anything remarkable, life-changing or effective. We are already given our inheritance before we can earn it or prove somehow we are worthy of it, before we are rid of all that ails us.
One salient fact in the Pentecost story from the Bible stands out – right at the beginning: When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place …(Acts 2:1)
Normally when we read or hear this text, we hurriedly breeze through this first verse to get to the sensational parts of the wind blowing through the place and the tongues of fire appearing on the disciples’ heads. We so readily go to what stimulates and excites us, don’t we?
Yet there is a gentle, subtle truth here, which also reveals the Holy Spirit’s action in our lives: We cannot do it alone.
Sometimes we seek renewal in nature, in solitude, by ourselves, secluded, isolated – in nature, on a vacation. And we feel God’s presence. We say, “the spirit of God is here.” Maybe so.
But Lutherans and Christians in general, I believe, would affirm that the Holy Spirit’s power is not primarily individualistic. The Holy Spirit, based on the biblical witness on the Day of Pentecost, comes to those gathered ‘together in one place.’
The only way we can truly and effectively live out our vocation, is to be with others, engage the world around us, and do it together.
Apart from the ever-expanding community of faith, the Christian Gospel cannot be effectively witnessed and proclaimed. Apart from the community of faith, you and I may do good works and be good citizens. Apart from the community of faith, we may find comfort and solace in distractions and the seductions of our materialistic culture.
But, if you want to see true, spiritual power and healing in your life and those around you – let’s do it together, and watch God’s Spirit change the world!
Even on a vacation, let’s live out our vocation – together!