Last fall, my friend Emily Climaco asked me to write a piece on my career change to ministry for Between the Lines, a quarterly inspirational magazine for women that she edits. The theme for the issue was love. What an intimidating honor! Since our fun filled days as wig wearing, lip synching, attic living college roommates, Emily has gone on to become Dr. Climaco, with a degree in English. Some how she manages to be brilliant and totally approachable at the same time, and blogs beautifully on everyday life with a dash of poetry at http://www.commonplacesoil.com. In honor of my dad's birthday, it's time to share here the article I wrote at Emily's request. This originally appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of Between the Lines:
A Father's Love
Wrapping my head around the idea of a loving heavenly father was never much of a stretch for me. My imperfect earthly dad did his best to love my family and live out his Christian faith at home. Most nights of my youth, he corralled us squirrely kids into the living room for family devotions and prayer before bed. Now that I’m a parent, I realize what an act of love and discipline that was! All through college, he sent me a weekly handwritten letter, complete with the Sunday funnies from our hometown newspaper. It felt like a hug from home. Love in an envelope.
After college, through a variety of God-orchestrated circumstances, my new husband and I found ourselves back in my hometown, me with the opportunity to work as my dad’s assistant in his successful financial planning business. Over the course of 10 years, we worked hard and had a great time in the office together. With my training and experience, I was poised to eventually carry on the practice when he retired. From an earthly perspective, I could not have asked for a better career situation, and my dad was pleased with the arrangement too. Having the daughter he raised and trained carry on with the business he worked so hard to build.
Except my heavenly father had something else in mind for me. For years, as my dad and I would discuss my career and the future of the business, that still small voice kept whispering to trust God, and that maybe this wasn’t where I would spend my entire career. The call for change came about three years ago, after much prayer and contemplation. Paul uses a phrase in Colossians, “Christ’s love compels us”, and I think that’s the best way to describe my calling. I felt compelled to take up a career in ministry because of my love for God. There were days that I would find myself quoting Proverbs 3:5-6 over and over, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight” (NIV). I truly wanted God to make my career path straight, but had no idea what that meant in practical terms.
So when the day came, what was my dad’s response when I told him that I was leaving my financial career, the one he had spent 10 years training me for, to take a giant leap of faith? He said, “It would be pretty selfish for us to raise you to love God above all and follow him, and then not want you to respond to his call on your life”. Wow. His mature response not only showed his love for me, but also his love for his heavenly father, the one he helped lead me to.
Oh, and that new career God had in mind for me? He opened a door at our church that hadn’t existed before. Now I work with families to build faith and live it out in their homes. In retrospect, my dad trained me for my career after all. In fact, he’s been at it for over 30 years.