calling

What a Late Night Uber Ride Can Teach Us About Calling

Apr 17, 2018

The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude. —Oswald Chambers, My Upmost For His Highest

After eight days of non-stop travel and speaking, I couldn’t wait to walk in my front door. I fantasized about crawling underneath my flannel sheets and sleeping for days. Don’t get me wrong: I love what I do—this career and calling. And those days of investing in individuals fill me with a deep sense of purpose.

Even so, I was exhausted. Three different speaking events—with multiple presentations each—is grueling. Especially for a woman who struggles with the mechanics of speaking.

Home beckoned. But first I needed to get there. Unfortunately, due to a snowstorm and multiple delayed flights, I landed in Denver far too late for my husband to pick me up. The kids were already in bed.

Don’t worry about it. I’ll catch an Uber.

I shot him a text, even as my selfish alter-ego hoped he’d jump in the car anyway. The last thing I wanted to do was to spend an hour in a stranger’s car at 11:00 pm.

With a sigh, I pulled up my Uber app, clicked on a request for pick-up, and confirmed my request. Then I schlepped my suitcases to the correct door and stood outside in the cold while I waited for my driver.

I had zero idea what was about to happen.

When my driver pulled up to the curb, a young man in his late twenties hopped out of his car. My first thought: I hope he isn’t a talker. His first thought: to load up my luggage and open my door.

His kindness surprised me. He was friendly, thoughtful. Not easily done at 11 o’clock at night.

I suspected he’d want to talk on the way home.

I was correct.

Within moments, he asked me about my travel, what I did for a living, asked me about my favorite color, hobbies, flavor of ice cream. Okay, not those last three. But I cringed with each question, selfishly longing for silence. Even so, I mustered the manners to ask him the same questions in return.

After listening, I asked him one final question. To this day, I’m not entirely sure why I asked it. But thank God I did:

“Guillermo, what’s your dream?”

The front seat got quiet. I waited. Then, as if making a decision, the flood gates opened and my Uber driver proceeded to share his dream.

He volunteers at a Spanish-speaking Christian church in downtown Denver, and his dream is to work with the youth, the teenagers who are searching for answers. He told me that his faith in Jesus Christ is the most important thing in his life, and he wants to do whatever he can to invest in the next generation.

For the next 45 minutes, as Guillermo drove his small, four-door sedan to my home, we shared our mutual faith and love of Jesus in his Uber car. We exchanged our favorite Bible verses and shared both the hard and beautiful parts of our stories.

And when Guillermo pulled up in front of my house in the dark of a long night, we prayed. Together.

It’s been more than two years since that day. I haven’t seen or heard from Guillermo since. But I know in the heart of Denver lives a young man serving Jesus who is my brother. He’s fulfilling his calling, one day at a time. Both with the teenagers he mentors and the passengers he drives in his Uber car.

I learned something important that day, something that has redefined how I view my calling. In the eight days before I met Guillermo, I’d delivered multiple presentations at multiple events and had met many successful and influential people. Lots of good things happened in those eight days, and I don’t want to discount it. But it wasn’t the sum total of my calling that week.

And it wasn’t the most memorable.

The moment that changed me, the one that made me feel most alive with God’s presence and calling in my life, happened during a late night Uber ride with a young man named Guillermo.

My point is this:

Many of you don’t know what your calling is. You’re begging God for clarity, searching for it like treasure. You think once you find it, life will somehow make more sense.

But calling isn’t “over here” or “over there.” It is right where you are.

It’s the person or purpose right in front of you. Today. This moment. Even if you’re at the gym sweating on the  elliptical or in a cubicle crouched behind a computer screen. Or in an Uber car long past your bedtime.

Gyms and cubicles and cars need your light as much as any place else.

Your calling is to be exactly who you are—the full expression of who God made you be, who God has graced you to be—today. Not after you get your dream job or when your children grow up or when you are discovered or when you feel better. But right here, right now. 

Open your eyes, my friends. Learn to look and listen and expect, even when you’re exhausted. Because the moment right in front of you is pregnant with far more opportunity for glory than the one you’re imagining somewhere down the road. 

QUESTION: Have you ever experienced God’s glory in an unexpected place? What happened? And how can you open your eyes and ears and heart to the expectation of the same today, exactly where you are? 

33 Comments

  1. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    I love this! The idea of calling has changed for me forever in the last few years. For me, my calling is to love, and that can look like many different things depending on who is right in front of me.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Me too, Linda. To love the person in front of me, no matter who they are.

      Reply
  2. Mary Gilzean

    “Your calling is to be exactly who you are—the full expression of who God made you be, who God has graced you to be—today.” This is such a powerful truth. Its amazing to me how many times a simple interaction with a grocery checker, or my hair dresser, or a coworker, will open up an opportunity to share Christ’s love. Its not a cookie cutter, scripted thing. Its spirit lead. Totally unexpected and always inspiring. Like you said with your conversation with Guillermo, “I’m not entirely sure why I asked it, but thank God I did.” Letting God speak through us. Thanks for doing just that, Michele.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      “Totally unexpected and always inspiring.” Exactly, Mary. Exactly.

      Reply
  3. Rita

    Well said. When I was young my parents were racing to a donor banquet my dad was emceeing. On the way my dad saw a homeless man on the side of the road. He asked mom to pull over. Reluctantly she did. She was trying to make up for delays. My dad gets out and sits in the middle of LA in his suit speaking g to this homeless guy and treated him as if he were the most important human being. To Jesus, he was as important. Minutes later my dad introduced him as Stephen, my new bro in Christ my dad delayed another 30 minutes and took him to the mission and paid for a week. We arrived at the banquet one hour late. My dad stepped up in time to introduce the speaker but not before he shared of this man. I later learned another man went to the mission and brought the man to his home. It turns out this man was an amazing landscaper. He came home one day to discover his wife gone with his kids and cleared out their bank accounts. He turned to alcohol.
    That day my dad modeled for a 11 year old rebellious kid that ministry is not something we run to it is like you said right in front of us. My dad had eyes to see. Years later this man spoke st my dad’s memorial but that day was a life changing marker for me

    Reply
    • Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

      Wow, Rita. Thank you for sharing that! What an amazing story of walking out God’s love in a heartbroken world!

      Reply
      • Rita

        Thanks Linda. What I discovered was God chise me to be in that car that day. Not my brother or sister. Me!

        Reply
    • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

      Oh wow, this had me choking up!! What a lovely man, and what a servant. And to know that he spoke at your father’s memorial? Tears…

      Reply
      • Rita Mayell

        Thanks. It still makes me cry too

        Reply
    • Damon J. Gray

      That was powerful – both when it happened, and when you shared it here.

      Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Next time, I’m letting YOU write the blog post. This was beautiful in every way.

      Reply
  4. Jeannie

    Thank you for this. I can’t begin to tell you my struggle with feeling useless, door after door not opening even for volunteering, friendships left in the dry Texas dust. Thank you for this message of learning to accept where I am,.

    Reply
    • Damon J. Gray

      Jeannie, I am so sorry for the frustration you are feeling, even with volunteer opportunities. Is it possible to create your own? Do you need “doors?” I don’t ask rhetorically, because I really don’t know. But I suspect there are opportunities by your path each day. Pray for clear vision to see them.

      I’ll give you a personal example. In my neighborhood, there is a home of a pastor, not my pastor, but a local pastor. As I drove by his home each day, I noted the grass getting taller and taller. After about a week and a half, having finished mowing my own lawn, I decided to just toodle down and mow his as well. No fanfare or glory-seeking. I was just sweaty already and it needed to be done, so I did it.

      I later learned that he and his wife were out of town for a couple of weeks on a family matter and were SO surprised and thankful that someone (they had no idea who) had cared for their lawn while they were gone.

      Look for the opportunities, Jeannie. Pray for them to jump into your path. You are NOT useless by any definition. You’re – perhaps – momentarily underutilized. 😉

      Reply
      • Jeannie

        Thank you Damon. Yes, I agree with all your words. I looked for someone at the grocery store to help this morning and God provided. He also put an 18 wheeler in my travels that said Jesus Delivers on the cab. I looked up the company and they only have 3 trucks in the state of Texas and God sent one just for me! He is amazing. Thank you for taking the time to reply and for your life giving words. May God bless you.

        Reply
        • Michele Cushatt

          Oh, Jeannie. Beautiful. You kept looking, and our God helped you see. With you, dear friend. Your life and service matters, no matter where you are.

          Reply
        • Damon J. Gray

          That’s wonderful Jeannie! Yes, keep looking. God will bless you with myriad opportunities to serve, and I suspect in both big and “little” ways. 🙂

          Reply
      • Michele Cushatt

        Beautiful example, Damon. “Paying attention” is perhaps the best way to serve.

        Reply
  5. Sue

    I love, love, love that story.I have had an intense empathetic heart since I was very little. I used to think that just made me weird because the world doesn’t always see it as valuable.Through my “weaknesses”, God has taught me that is my calling. The Holy Spirit has taught me to listen and love people right where they are at Hobby Lobby, doctors office or a homeless shelter. I am so beyond blessed in those encounters and I know my Abba has a big smile on His face as well.

    Reply
  6. Pearl Allard

    Michele, wow. So powerful. We over complicate following Jesus sometimes. It’s simpler and harder, both. Thank you for this reminder and for sharing your story.

    I experienced God’s glory this week in my home in the midst of disciplining my children. My son went from a terrible attitude screaming at his little sister and then wanting to be by himself to apologizing and asking little sister to play with him.

    What changed? After fighting and fighting it, I finally watched him pray and ask God to change his heart. He had acknowledged he didn’t even want to change. And I told him, “we ask God for help and it’s God’s job to change us. We can’t change ourselves.” It brought me to tears seeing my 9-year-old’s childlike faith that God would change him. It took me decades to understand that.

    Reply
  7. Jennifer Zarifeh Major

    I LOVE this!!! I love that you both shared this moment in God’s time to fill each of you up and sooth your weariness. Isn’t God so marvelous at pouring strength and joy into our parched hearts?
    I had a similar experience on a train from Gallup to Albuquerque, and long 3 hour train ride/story short, God used a school principal from Shiprock named Max Perez to affirm His calling on my work.
    Before I got on the train, I had prayed for peace and quiet, for no one to sit next to me, because I was entirely spent after 7 days of research and interviews. Instead, this very tall, broad shouldered man sat down and proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions. He was witty, and smart, and obviously a gentleman, because kept his boundaries, even in the tight confines of a train car.
    But the man knew how to talk to people. When he asked what I was doing in New Mexico, I told him I was on a research trip on Navajo history. I also told him that I wasn’t feeling very chatty, and told him that when I got on the train, I’d asked God for some kind of confirmation of my purpose. I figured, if anything would have made him smile and cringe and pull out a book, and leave me alone, that was it.
    Nope.
    He put me at ease, and told me that he was meeting his darling wife in ABQ and then gushed all about her for 15 minutes. Then asked me to tell him about my work. I sort of muttered a vague outline, then Max asked me tell him the names of the characters, “so I can follow the story better, because I want the entire book, and go…”. When I told him the name of the main character was Natanii, but he changed it to Nez in order to hide his identity, Max blinked, then asked me to keep going. “We have almost 3 hours. LOTS of time! But when you’re done, ask me the name of my first school, okay?” So, I told him all that I could and he said it sounded great. Then he told me that he was the principal of a school in Shiprock (where I’d never been, only just heard of that week, and knew nothing about) and that the student population was 99% Navajo.
    Then he smiled and leaned closer. “Okay, Jennifer, ask me the name of my school.”
    I was just sooo fried by this point…
    “Okay, Max, what’s the name of your school?”
    He grinned and laughed. “Jennifer? The name of my school is The Natanii Nez Elementary School. You’re doing exactly what God wants you to be doing, and He is in this. Never worry about that.”
    Whenever I grow weary, I think of that conversation.

    Reply
    • Damon J. Gray

      What?? Are you kidding? That was such an awesome conversation. And he played it perfectly, waiting till the end to tell you.

      Reply
      • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

        I kid you not!! And yes, it I still gives me chills!
        Yes, it played it well, and he was so encouraging. I got to meet his wife at the ABQ train station, and he invited me to speak at his high school. Alas, that never happened.
        But it was a day like no other.

        Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Oh my goodness. I don’t even know what to say. God’s beautiful presence. It’s breathtaking.

      Reply
      • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

        Wild , eh? I told that story at Mount Hermon last month, and I love watching people’s reactions. If I remember correctly (it was a blur of a weekend!) a nice kid named Allan Arnold blinked a lot and said “Whoa.”
        Sometimes God just lays it all out there. Which is nice for all the other times that He doesn’t. And His promises aren’t temporary, so I’m holding tight to this one.

        Reply
  8. Damon J. Gray

    Oh, yes, Michele. I had a similar experience on my way to Leverage, AZ, 2017.

    I picked up a hitchhiker, and I don’t do that. But something pressed upon me to pick this man up in the middle of nowhere, walking with his gas can.

    He had been released from prison the day before.

    Since we were an hour from the nearest town, in the middle of the hills, no cell service, we had much uninterrupted time to interact, just as you did with your Uber driver. Not only was he one day fresh from prison, he had met Jesus just the week before.

    Wow!!

    God-ordained moment?

    This man was struggling so hard to figure out how his newly-embraced faith fit the reality of his life, and he was on his way from a California prison to Spokane, WA to try to make things right with his wife and children.

    Like you, I don’t know how all that turned out, but I have no doubt God orchestrated that event.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

      Dude, I’ve read this 4 times and it just slays me.
      You probably changed his life. Isn’t it so cool to be in the hand of God like that?

      Reply
      • Damon J. Gray

        Jenifer, what was particularly wild was being out of cell range.

        Now, let me preface this by saying I am a TOTAL believer in women’s intuition. Y’all have something we guys just do not have.

        So, I have this guy in my car for over an hour, and my wife cannot get in touch with me. She had “sensed” that something was out of whack and was trying to call/text me to see if everything was okay.

        You don’t see it when you’re in the moment, but afterward, you look back on these experiences (this one, Michele’s, yours) and you see God’s hand on it and it totally bakes your noodle!

        Reply
  9. Bruce Cross

    Michele – an absolutely delightful post and a great reminder to pay attention to those whom the Lord sends our respective ways. Thanks for the lift!

    Reply
  10. Rebekah Love Dorris

    What a story. What a slew of stories! These comments are like icing layers! What a good God to let us glimpse His grace through true stories like these. God bless each of you.

    Reply
  11. Paul Johnson

    Great story Michele! I am a podcaster, speaker, and writer but also an evening Uber driver. I treat my Uber work as a ministry and daily ask God to lead me into inspired opportunities for “God appoints” and influence with my riders. I am happy to report he provides many opportunities for great discussions with people from all walks of life.

    Reply
  12. Sheila

    Wise word Michele! We are not the person we were yesterday, and still don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But today we can be all that God wants us to be and do whatever he has placed in front of us!

    Reply
  13. Sarah Beckman

    LOVE THIS!! SO MUCH. Yes, the ordinary moments that remind us that it’s our calling always, not just on a stage or on the page.

    Reply

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