A Lion In The Ocean


lionBe who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” St Catherine of Siena

How often do we run through the motions of life unaware of who we are and what God is trying to convey to us?

St Catherine urges us to become who God created us to be. As we become us we will set the world on fire.

For many years, I had been going through the motions of life, just taking care of responsibilities. Then God intervened:

An Ordinary Day

I was putting on my tie getting ready for work. It was an ordinary work day.

I was a mortgage manager at a bank. I made a good enough living to provide for my wife and four young children. We lived in a comfortable home in a well-planned neighborhood. We belonged to a good church with a large community of friends. At first glance, life was good.

Something happened on this particular day that I didn’t expect. While looking into the mirror putting on my tie, my eyes began to leak. Yes, that’s right, this 6’4″ 250-pound ex-football player began to cry. It wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last. This was not my normal daily routine while preparing to go to work. I was caught by surprise.

The Heart Speaks Up At Odd Times

My heart was trying to convey something that my mind was unable to comprehend.

“What is going on?” I asked myself. “Why are tears flowing down my face at a time like this?”

I didn’t have time for this, I had to get to work. So, like many days previous, I pushed these feelings aside and went to work.

Lion in The Ocean?

A few days later, Glenn, who worked for me, randomly offered: “Bart, you are like a Lion in the Ocean.”

“What?” I questioned, “Lions don’t belong in the Ocean!”

Glenn shrugged his shoulders and quipped, “Yep”, then walked off.

This stayed with me for days: “Lions don’t belong in the ocean!”

Something deep within my heart was being stirred, but I didn’t know what it was. I offered up this quick prayer: “What are you saying to me, Lord?”

Beginning Of The End

A few months later, the mortgage industry took a nose dive. Perhaps you may have heard about the financial crisis of 2008. In the early 2000’s, the mortgage industry achieved its best years ever. Within about 7 years, the industry was at it’s worse. Those happened to be the 7 years that I was in the industry. I was a firsthand witness to the industries best and worst years. Fortunately, I was not part of the problem, but I certainly was among those who were deeply impacted by its collapse.

I hung on as long as I could, fighting to adequately provide for my young family, yet my dissatisfaction grew with each passing day. The grace that had carried me for the previous 6.5 years had now run out. I grew deeply discontent.

I found myself longing to find a vocation that was more suited to my desires. Glenn’s words resonated deeply within my heart: I felt like a “Lion in the ocean” longing to find the “Safari” my heart yearned for.

A Way Out

I desperately wanted out, but I couldn’t see a way. Where was I going to find a job that offered me this much opportunity? I felt like I was the Lion Glenn spoke of, stuck swimming in an endless ocean of despair. I saw no way out.

Within a few months, a representative from Human Resources showed up at my desk with a box. My time in this “ocean” had come to a sudden end. I had no idea how I would provide for my family, yet I felt an unusual peace and grace in this time of difficult transition.

I had renewed hope of things to come. I was eager to find my “Safari”.

It wasn’t an easy transition by any stretch of the imagination. I went without work for far too long. We had to sell our house, and my family went through some very difficult times. Yet, at the end of this crooked road, there was a “Safari” awaiting me.

I Found My “Safari”

For many years, I longed to do ministry, yet opportunities would come and go and financial responsibilities increased as my family grew. For about 7 years, I put on a suit and tie, and pushed aside my passions in order to provide for my family. That season had come to an abrupt end.

My heart had finally caught up to me. The tears that leaked out that day where my heart’s way of saying “Hey, remember me?” My heart was crying out in hopes of discovering my “Safari”.

Be You

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” St Catherine of Siena

We were all created for a unique purpose. A Lion does not belong in the ocean any more than a Shark belongs on land. Everything is created to be who and what it was created to be.

We will not thrive outside of being who we were meant to be: A baseball was not created to be a light bulb any more than a light bulb was created to be a baseball. Each is created to be who they were meant to be. A light bulb would make for a terrible baseball. Yet walk into any dark room and turn on the light switch. Aren’t you glad someone didn’t put a baseball in the lamp? We find great comfort in knowing that a light bulb is in its intended spot. It was created to fill the room with light.

So are we.

Launched Into Fulfillment

While the circumstances were far from ideal, this closure in the Mortgage business served as a catalyst to launch me into what God had for me next.

Since this time, I have stumbled upon my heart’s passion. I now work full time doing what I love. I travel the country doing conferences and retreats with my brother, seeing countless lives transformed before our eyes as the Father encounters the hearts of His people with His Love and presence.

It was a tough “swim” in those choppy “Ocean” waters, but today I am enjoying life in the “Safari”.

Where is Your “Safari”?

Perhaps you are wondering where your “Safari” is. If so, ask the One who created you. He will direct your steps.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

What about the journey on the way to our “Safari”? Is it wasted? Was my time in the mortgage business a mistake? Not at all, it was God’s tool to do a deeper work within my heart and prepare me for days to come. It also served as a means to provide for my growing family. God promises to work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God used every bit of that season to prepare me for this one. There was grace for that season, yet when the time for change had come, the grace dried up. It was time to seek the next season.

Every step of the way prepares us for God’s greater purposes.

Know The Times and Seasons

There are times when God will open doors and there are times He will close them. There are even times when He will dry certain things up in order to redirect our steps.

The key I have found is to take the time to listen, it makes things so much easier when we hear the voice of God within our heart (instead of H.R. showing up with a box).

Time To Hear From The Heart

What do we do when God is stirring our hearts for a change? Will we listen?

What does the Church say about the Heart?

CCC 2563 The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter because, as an image of God, we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.

Time of Silence

There are times when God will call us aside so He can speak to us in silence:

CCC 2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come” or “silent love.” Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

Time For Adventure

Perhaps I am not the only one stuck swimming in an ocean of despair. Remember, Lions don’t belong in the ocean. They were created for a wild adventure in the Safari.

So were we.

A Greater Lion

We are not alone.

Revelation 5:5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…”

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4 thoughts on “A Lion In The Ocean”

  1. Pingback: TVESDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

  2. Everyone needs to find their best place, and we are called to minister to others as part of our faith. Not sure that’s supposed to be a paid position. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these “jobs” were unnecessary because they were filled by an army of enthusiastic, faith filled volunteers!

  3. Here’s the problem. Prior to the Great Recession (and maybe a few years before that), lay people did not rely on the Church for their employment. The Church was the Church, and lay people were definitely not part of its management.

    But now we are inundated with an army of laity who’ve attached themselves like barnacles to the institutional Church. They grant themselves flowery names like “ministries” and “institutes” and “apostolates” and “centers”. They have corporate notions like “boards of directors” and paid staffers with backgrounds in marketing and other secular pursuits. And ALL have their hands out for money, all the time – either in direct competition with the Church itself, or worse yet by siphoning money out what we donate to our parishes and dioceses.

    How can we reverse this trend? Well, I don’t attend parish missions or the like unless actual clergy are speaking. I’ve cut off donations to my diocese as a feeble way of protesting its lavish support of “lay ministries”. I just don’t like where all this is heading.

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