After finishing my degree from Belmont University, I began waiting tables. The idea of working as a server right out of college was not really my ideal first step toward my future career, but it was what was available at the time. About five months into my job, I became convinced that God was calling me to go to seminary. Naturally, I hightailed it home to pursue furthering my education. When I got there, I expected God to make everything easy. I thought that since He had called me to this, He would pave the way for me to go. But instead of it being easy for me to go to seminary, it was impossible. Every single possible door slammed shut in my face.
At the age of 24, I found myself living with my parents and working a factory job for $6.50 an hour. I hated it. I hated it so much that I thought I had heard God wrong. I thought maybe I should return to Nashville and go back to waiting tables. So, I packed my car and planned to go back as quickly as I came home. The night before I left, God said to me in no uncertain terms, “Do not go back to Nashville.” Thus began an argument between me and God: What?!? God, you move me 800 miles away from my friends, the music business and a paying job to what—a dead-end job making a little above minimum wage? That’s not my idea of You working things out. You closed the seminary door in my face; what am I supposed to do?
To say that I was frustrated with God would be a huge understatement. A pastor friend told me to stop and listen intently to what God was saying to me and trust His words. The night before I was to leave, I told my parents that I could not return to Nashville. Instead, I went back to that dead-end job, working beside colleagues who didn’t even have high school educations—in fact, some of them barely had teeth.
I spent the next 14 months listening for God’s voice. I frequently put words in His mouth. I thought He wanted me to be a teacher, so I looked into pursuing my teaching certification. That door closed, too. So my father encouraged me to apply for a job at the financial institution MBNA. I did, and I was offered the job. But I turned it down because this time I felt that God was saying, “No, this is not for you.” My father and I had a huge argument over me turning this job down, but I told him that I knew this was not what God wanted me to do. Fortunately for me, he respected that.
Fourteen months after I moved home, a friend who I met through that dead-end job introduced me to her close entrepreneurial friend, who also happened to be a wealthy and influential philanthropist. We chatted by phone on a Sunday afternoon. By the following Sunday, I had been offered my dream job. This friend of a friend offered me a job as the manager of a faith-based coffeehouse. And this time, God said clearly and enthusiastically, “Yes, this is your calling!” If I had not taken that position, I honestly believe I would not be writing books and speaking today.
If I hadn’t known Jesus, His voice and His expectation of me, I would have settled for a life He didn’t want me to live. When we pursue knowing Jesus—not just through church, youth group or Bible study, but through our own study of Scripture, meditation and intimacy—we are yielding our lives to Him.
I meditate. Unfortunately, I don’t meditate as often as I know I should. A beautiful thing happens when I meditate. The world gets shut out, and for a few short moments, I am alone with my Savior, thinking only of Him.
I’m sure I look silly sprawled out in the middle of my living room floor wearing nothing but a pair of boxer briefs and a T-shirt, with candles lit all around me. But this is where my faith is restored. This is where I hear Jesus speak my name. I trust more because I meditate. I have more joy because I meditate. I hear God because I meditate. The Bible commands us to meditate on God’s Word day and night—so that’s what I do. In the quietness of my house, Jesus meets me, and I set my mind on Him.
Meditation on Jesus will change your spiritual life. It will rejuvenate your faith like nothing else you will ever experience. More than a great sermon, more than listening to a radio teaching, more than reading this website, meditation on Christ—what He did, who He is and what He wants of you—will give your life focus, and it will make your faith provocative. And you will begin to know Him like never before.
[Matthew Paul Turner’s next book Provocative Faith—Walking Away from Ordinary releases September 1 from Revell Books. You can reach him at [email protected].]