Called to Shine
I heard a story two weeks ago on NPR’s Weekend Edition that seemed to me to capture the Christian sense of vocation nearly perfectly. The story was about Getnet Marsha, an immigrant from Ethiopia who shines shoes in the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C. Except he doesn’t just shine shoes, he saves them. He gives the shoes in his care such expert, even loving care that they come alive under his touch. More than that, he gives a moment of respite to those who come his way. Knowing this may be one of the few moments of the day when his patrons have a break, he tries to make the most of it.
Getnet, who goes by Getu, doesn’t make a lot of money from his trade. Because he is a refugee, he is tremendously grateful for this opportunity to earn enough to live on and, by being careful, to send some money back home to his family. But even more, he is grateful for the chance to make a difference. He believes that his efforts, no matter how small they may seem, change, if not the world, at least a small part of the world of those who venture into Concourse D of Charlotte’s airport.
And is this not the definition of vocation: to sense that one is called to make a difference wherever one is and, even more, to be grateful for the opportunity and sense God at work? It’s ultimately not the work, not the pay, not the outcome, but rather the person, the person who senses that he or she has something to offer. Anyone can hear and receive this sense of purpose, because through baptism God calls all of us to make a difference and in this way be a herald of God’s goodness.
You can watch an interview with Getu below. If you want to read more or listen to the story, you can do so here. The audio story runs less than four minutes, and if you’ve got the time I’d encourage you to listen to it. Who knows, it might not only make your day but give you insight into where and how God is calling you to shine.
Note: if you are receiving this post by email, you may need to click here to watch the video.
Post image from Tanner Latham for NPR.