By Nathan C. Vance
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I had been having a good day. To say it better, my work day was fine which means it was basically uneventful. When I got home, my wife had dinner ready and my young son was excited to see me (I want Daddy run were the first words to me when I arrived home. I was happy to oblige his request.) As he and I played, my mind was filled with thoughts of the wizardry of Cleveland Cavs General Manager, David Griffith, and the beautiful roster that he was just about to re-tool. After my wife and I put our son to bed, we spent about an hour and a half formulating a couple of chapters in a book that we are co-authoring. To that point, I can say that yesterday was one of the good days.
Just before bed, I made the mistake of checking in on my Cavs, hoping to find that they had fleeced a desperate team and that either Paul George or Jimmy Butler were now in Cleveland and that Griff had somehow managed to keep Kevin Love as well. Roll your eyes if you’d like, but I’m a fan. I see my Cavs through rose-colored lenses, and I’ve seen crazier deals get done by lesser GMs. Unfortunately, what I found instead changed my mood. The Cleveland Cavs and GM David Griffith officially decided to part ways. No deals had been made and Twitter revealed that LeBron James, a top-2 player in the history of the sport, was obviously unhappy.
I tried to stay positive. I tried to look at the bright side. And this may sound silly, but all of the good from my day was gone. I had let negativity in, and at the worst possible time. I lay in bed tossing and turning. With every shift I made from one shoulder to the other, my frustration grew. As my frustration intensified, I got hot, and sweaty, and itchy, and then my mind started to race. Every possible worse-case scenario in my job played out in my head. Instead of counting sheep, I was playing a horrifying “what-if” game and I kept losing. By two AM, I had worked myself into a frenzy and in my mind, my entire staff had quit, there were no qualified applicants to hire as replacements, and I was somehow left doing the jobs of twenty staff by myself. If that wasn’t enough, I was picturing all the time that I would lose with my family because of the time I would be spending at my job. I don’t know how I got to this point, but I was short of breath, furious, and suddenly questioning God about his plans for my life.
That may seem crazy, but it proved to me that once negative thoughts are allowed a place, they spread like cancer and can become all consuming. I tried to calm down, but I couldn’t. I was so mad in that moment that I was shaking. The words rolled out of my mouth, “God, I’m 32 years old and I demand to know what you designed me to do! I don’t want to guess! I don’t want to work to figure it out. I don’t want to read a Bible verse to feel better. I don’t want to wait. I want an answer! NOW!
I try my best to be an even-keel person. I try to stay positive, even in the worst of times. I try to be everything that I know God’s word has told me to be. But as I stated in my recent post, “The Bible is a Love Story,” we are designed for a relationship with God. In a relationship, more than one person speaks and more than one person listens. It’s a give and take. And even in our best relationships, or maybe especially in our best relationships, there is room for heated discussion. I was the definition of heated. Once I got the deep-seeded frustration off of my chest, I was suddenly tired of talking to God and ready to listen to Him.
In all of my crazy, over-exaggerated behavior, in all my demands, in all of my needless yelling, I really never expected to hear an answer. I thought that letting out what was bothering me at my core might assist me in getting some sleep. But in this story, what happened next was far more important than what had already transpired. A single word came to me. I could visualize it in bold–typed print, and I could almost audibly hear it. It stopped me dead in my tracks. The word was Ambassador, and I knew immediately that it was my answer.
I realize that this story is bizarre from beginning to end, but I assure you, it not only made sense to me, but it instantly calmed me down, like in Mark 4:39 when Jesus stood and said, “Peace! Be still!’ and the storm ceased and there was a great calm. At the end of 2 Corinthians chapter five, the Apostle Paul tells all Christians that their general design is to become ambassadors for Christ. We are to be his representatives on Earth. Perfect. End of story, right? Wrong.
The word ambassador resonated deep within me. It struck me far deeper than if it was placed in my subconscious simply to remind me of my general duty as a Christian. It took me back to a time several years ago. My organization was owned and operated by a different group than it is today. Within that organization I had been identified as a potential leader and was given multiple personality profiles to dissect me and to place me on a track that would best maximize my skills. This probably sounds like boasting but it is not. In each of the tests that I was asked to complete, the same word came back to describe my best role within theirs, or any future organizations. The word, if you haven’t already guessed, was ambassador. At the time, I even discussed the creation of a corporate ambassador position with the President of Human Resources so that I could represent the corporate culture to the outlying groups within the organization. I remember being so excited at the potential. The position never materialized as our small company was purchased by a different organization within the next few months. But that same feeling of excitement came back to me as the word arose out of thin air.
I did some research online so that I could fully understand my place. So I searched the question “What is an ambassador?” The Google definition came first. “An accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.” I clicked another link and this was the result: “An is the President’s highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. An effective has to be a strong leader—a good manager, a resilient negotiator, and a respected representative of the United States.”
My novel, The Killer and Boyd Burgess, The Utility Blog, and Amos have all given me a platform to do what I’m designed to do. I am an ambassador of Jesus Christ and his kingdom here on Earth. My goal and objective is to correct myths that have been perpetuated in His name, to represent Him and His message, and to tell the good news of God’s grace and His love to anyone who will listen.
In reading this, it will be easy to dismiss my experience as little more than me clinging to hope from an experience in my past. I don’t begrudge anyone who reads this and comes away with that opinion but I can tell you that it was far more than that. In Jeremiah chapter I God tells Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” And in Romans 2:11 it says that God is no respecter of persons. If you connect the dots, it means that, like Jeremiah, God has set each of us apart and designed each of us for a specific purpose. Last night, God knew that I needed a reminder of what my design is. I’m grateful that the negativity is gone and I am back on track.