On Profession: It’s to See All Those Lights Turn On. That’s Why I Do It.

An elderly man once recounted a poignant moment from childhood that had to do with his father’s job with the local power company. I cannot for the life of me recall who the man was or how our conversation came about, but I never lost sight of the mental picture he painted way back when.

After inquiring of his father why he worked such long hours, why he went out in the middle of the night after bad storms, why meals had to be missed when people’s power went out, etc., the father felt it best to show his son rather than just tell him. 

The two of them loaded up in a truck and drove out in the country, eventually parking on the brow of a hill overlooking the city. They conversed for about 20-30 minutes, nothing more than small talk as the sun began to set. The dad then transitioned the conversation to answer his son:

“You are correct. I do work long hours. My job does require me to go out at night after bad storms. I have to miss family meals from time to time. But, you see that house over there and how the light in the dining room just turned on? Well, the mom and dad have just completed a long day of work. They’re just now getting settled in with their children. They need light so they can sit around the dinner table to share a family meal.”

“Or what about that porch light over there?” He motioned, having to distinguish the one porch light from all the others simultaneously turning on; “that couple has recently faced a lot of adversity; they find solace by sitting and rocking while enjoying the cool night air. All those lights for all those families require electricity, without which they could not enjoy time with each other.”

“So, to answer your question,” the dad continued, as the son couldn’t help but notice the surrounding hillside and valley below brilliantly beamed with light, “it’s to see all those lights turn on; that’s why I do it.”

Personally, I just returned home from a mission trip to Puerto Rico (with Campus Outreach Univ. South Alabama). The comparisons between that trip and the father’s responses are many. For one, the exhilaration we felt each time a new convert declared “yes and amen” to the Gospel call. Those surges alone were worth the entire cost of admission. It’s akin to reliving your own conversion all over again…but with the added benefit of knowing their walk with Jesus will only grow sweeter.

Or witnessing a student reluctantly step forward to inquire of a total stranger: “may I share about my Redeemer Jesus and the time He inclined to me and heard my cry?” An expression she lifted from Psalm 40 and boldly expounded under the watchful eyes of her peers. The intimidation factor she later recalled was “great,” but sensing God’s pleasure upon her felt “far, far greater.”

The power generated in those spaces is no less spectacular than the electricity required to light an entire city. To further elaborate would detach part of our experience, so I best stop there. I would, however, like to give the last word to Maria Verde, a student at South Alabama and fellow member of our team:

Could God be calling me into some type of ministry? Surely not, that’s not me, that’s my brother or my sister or my brothers-in-law. I’m quiet, studious, not good at teaching, and cold-that doesn’t sound like a person who’s called to ministry. But that’s not who I am anymore. God is calling every single Christian and me to evangelism. Whether that looks like becoming a doctor, an engineer, or going into ministry, I just want to evangelize for the rest of my life with whatever occupation the Lord has for me!

So, why do it? For what purpose do people pay to reap harvests in a foreign field? I’d have to agree with that dad who worked for the power company way back when: “It’s to see all those lights turn on; that’s why we do it.” 

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” – 3rd John 1:4

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