I have had a broad range of experiences in my life. I grew up in the same house I was born in; however, because my parents had changed churches, I experienced three different schools with completely different friends and very different atmospheres. I experienced different churches with different worship styles. As a high schooler, I worked as a waitress and as a college student I worked many different jobs: computer lab attendant, front desk receptionist, cashier, secretary, and (my favorite) flower planter. I have worked as an activity therapist, music therapist, flute teacher, piano teacher, guitar teacher, infant through pre-school play and music teacher, manager, grant writer (complete failure), stay at home mom, first grade para-professional, elementary school secretary, and a ministry assistant. I have lived in suburban Detroit, Kalamzoo (MI), Milwaukee, rural Illinois, Grand Rapids (MI), and now suburban Buffalo. In ministry I have been pre-school teacher, worship team member, choir member, small group leader, youth leader, orchestra member, elementary small group leader, hospitality team member, and (I know I'm forgetting a lot) pastor's wife. The point is that all of us (if we've lived long enough) have a broad range of experiences that can seem unrelated at times. Please look up Ephesians 3:1-5.
I think it is interesting that after all that Paul had been through and everything he accomplished through Christ, the first thing he says about himself in chapter 3 is that he is a prisoner. It is not that I'm surprised by the fact that he acknowledges his current state while writing this letter, it just caught my attention that he described himself as a prisoner. He didn't describe himself as a tent maker or as an evangelist; he described himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Paul was writing to a group of people who understood the risks it took to be a follower of Christ during the Roman rule. The Ephesians understood what it meant to go against the cultural norms. Yet, Paul reminded them that he was in prison because of his obedience to God's call on his life.
The other thing that caught my attention was the fact that Paul wrote that God gave him a purpose, which was to share the plan God had for the Gentiles. He wrote how God was using the apostles and prophets to reveal His plan for grace and unity for both the Jews and Gentiles. It made me think about purpose. God wanted obedience from His followers no matter what that would mean. For Paul, he understood that one day he would be in prison because of Christ, yet he continued to follow the call. Paul didn't even understand why God allowed him to stay in prison when there were so many other people who needed to hear the Good News, yet he wrote letters to the churches. We can see in hind-sight that God was using Paul's time in prison to reach so many more people throughout history.
God wants to do the same with all of us. He wants willing servants who are ready to be used anywhere. He wants people to accept that God has them where they are at this moment in time to be used by Him. God knows your background and He knows your various life experiences and can use them in the most creative ways. I have seen God take seemingly unrelated experiences from my past and put them together to use in a new way that I would have never dreamed. He wants to do the same with everyone. He is looking for a willing heart.
Do you have the willing heart God is looking for?