Do you ever get restless? I don’t mean the lie-awake-at-night-worrying type of restless, or the cabin-fever restless we all get from being confined in the house too long. I’m talking about the restlessness that occurs from the nagging urge to make a significant life change – new job or career, relocate to another town or city, downsize or upsize your home, re-educate, re-train, or retire. Such restlessness must be examined carefully and prayerfully, for it may simply be a case of frustration, stagnation or boredom. On the other hand it could signify a calling.
My friend Patrick Custer tells the story about his grandfather, a Pentecostal preacher who for many years served as pastor of the largest Pentecostal church in Amarillo, Texas. He and his wife lived in a nice home provided by the church, earned a respectable salary, were highly respected in the community, and generally lived a comfortable life. Then one Sunday morning my friend’s grandfather abruptly resigned for reasons of neither a bigger church, nor to retire. Rather, he and his wife sold all they had and moved into a small trailer in the poorest, most dangerous neighborhood in Amarillo where he had purchased some rundown property. There, with no prior experience in construction, he began to tear down the old dilapidated houses and lay the foundation for a new church. Along the way he somehow convinced a local lumberyard manager to donate the materials, and even more miraculously persuaded the owner of an X-rated movie theater to close down his business and give the theater seats to the church for pews. The two donors, previously strangers by the way, became the church’s first deacons.
Now when the old preacher started the project he was working alone. But soon a couple of drug addict, alcoholic types who had been watching from afar began to pitch in – then another, and another – until about fifty or so were showing up daily to help with the construction. By the time the building was completed and the X-rated theater seats installed, Patrick’s grandfather had not just built a church, but also a thriving congregation.
My friend Patrick, a highly successful businessman and entrepreneur, did not follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as a Pentecostal preacher, but he does credit him for being the most influential person in his life. Understandably so, for what he learned from him is to examine his own restlessness – which occurs from time to time – carefully and prayerfully, and if it signifies a true calling to respond boldly. It’s an inspiring story for all of us – the next time we get restless.