Life on Purpose

by DanWolgemuth on October 28, 2022

It was almost exactly 45 years ago that I walked the rural streets of Upland, Indiana with Mary at my side. We were in the midst of the most intense dialog that we had experienced in our courtship.

I had graduated from Taylor University in May of that year, specifically 1977, and Mary was back on campus to finish out her undergraduate degree in Social Work, before our planned wedding in April of 1978.

But at this moment, a wedding in April seemed out of reach.

Mary had attended a Social Work retreat that featured Ron Sider. Ron had just completed his book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. His input during the weekend had touched Mary deeply, and profoundly. The script she had written for her life now seemed out of alignment with her love and commitment to Christ.

Consequently, our walk down dark and quiet streets had the complexity, urgency and emotion that no other talk in my life had ever had.

I was five months into my career. I had graduated from Taylor in May with a degree in Business/Systems, and I was putting my degree to use with a job at Mutual Security Life… for just over $10,000 a year (I did have every other Friday off!). I lived in a small upstairs apartment on the West side of Fort Wayne with a widow on the main floor. This was her house, and she needed someone on the second floor who could both pay rent and mow the grass. This was where I had planned to bring my bride. To start our married life together… but now, all of that seemed like fiction.

Silence was our companion for much of the walk. There was a Fall chill in the air and in the conversation.

After some time, Mary spoke… “I just don’t think I can marry a systems analyst.”

Her words weren’t spoken out of anger… just authentic soul-searching. Angst as she wrestled with her calling, her vision, and the script that had been crafted, in large measure, by an over-anxious college graduate. Me.

There’s certainly a lot more to this story, and for now, it’s enough for you to know that on April 8th, 1978 we were married in a lovely church in Franklin, Michigan. For this I am humbled and deeply grateful.

But what has lingered since that conversation in the Fall of 1977 is the reminder that a pursuit of significance through a resume is never God’s end game. I wasn’t formed in my mother’s womb to be a Systems Analyst, I was “created to do good works”, that God alone has crafted for me (see Ephesians 2:10). That doesn’t mean that being an IT guy, or a doctor, or a pastor, or a social worker isn’t important, it just means that our purpose as followers of Christ must extend beyond those borders. Beyond my title or balance sheet or address or corner office… to a Kingdom location. To a Kingdom purpose and plan.

Mary did it. She said it. And yes, she meant it deeply. And while the battle to clearly understand my Kingdom purpose rages on, I know that Mary’s words were true. For me. For her. For us.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

This is our calling…

A college reunion trip last week reminded me, yet again… thank you, Mary. Thank you, Jesus.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: