Years ago, I met a man who had recently been hired to start a ministry with people over the age of fifty. Because I had done some work on life stages, we spent some significant time together discussing what might be most helpful for this group. The conclusion we came to was that we needed to help this age group utilize all that they had experienced, learned, and acquired throughout their lives and walk with God by investing it generously in future generations. My heart was stirred for this kind of work during the same time that I was in a job with a completely different focus. Within days of the creation of this ministry strategy, this man asked me if I would consider leaving my current position to join him in this endeavor. So I went to my boss to inform him of our conversations and my intentions, to which he said, “Gary, that type of work is you, but that’s not what this ministry is going to be about. It will focus on elder care, not calling.” I knew he was sharing inside information that my friend didn’t know yet. So I declined my friend’s offer, feeling like this was some sort of cruel joke—being that close to something that I would love to do and having it disintegrate in my hands. In asking God what this whole thing was about, He responded with a question: “Did you feel that?” God will often give us a question rather than an answer because questions have the power to raise the motivations and issues of our hearts. Look at how many times Jesus responded to others with a question in Scripture. My immediate, unedited response was, “Yes! That’s what I want to devote the rest of my life to.” Then I sensed His response: “Wait and watch.... It’s coming.”
I remember being stirred by the little-known but profound movie The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn. It is the story of a man who lived out his glory, living unreservedly and generously in the brilliance and strength of his life. His purity, contentedness, and fruitfulness aroused in others either a desire to find their place in life or anger because they did not have what he had found. Though he was deeply intentional, humble, and kind with his life (a place that few people ever get to), there was more that he needed to learn about his heart. I watched this movie one evening and then again the next morning, and I have returned to it several times over the years. I came to understand that the story being told was more than just a good movie; God was up to something, and I knew it. He was awakening this deep, historic, long-standing desire in me to live and help others live a true, unambiguous, intentional life.