What Are You Doing Here? By Dawn Moran Castro

Communications specialist and researcher Dawn Moran Castro has been selected as second-place winner in the LittWorld 2024 writing contest (English) among 75 entries from around the world. This is her winning story.

What Are You Doing Here?

By Dawn Moran Castro

Almost 9:00 p.m. I heard the doorknob click as the last other person on the floor locked the door. I sighed and stared at the clock. It had been the usual busy workday for everyone. And yet, I wondered, how were they able to go home at the end of the day and I could not? I looked at my To Do notebook and ticked one—just one—off. Glancing at the longer list of unaccomplished tasks, I mused about how pointless my efforts were. I could hear resentment and self-pity arguing in my mind. Turning up the music, I settled comfortably into my office chair. My pensive thoughts must wait until another time.

It was during one such gloomy night when my mind drifted to the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18-19). Having just defeated 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah when he prayed down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel, he had every right to celebrate a great victory. Ironically, though, he was on the run. Queen Jezebel had threatened him with the same fate as the prophets he killed, and he was afraid. He hid in a cave in Mount Sinai, possibly begrudging a lost cause. But God drew near to him and asked a piercing question he could not avoid, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

That same question echoed in my mind for several months. I had been an Executive Assistant in a Bible translation and publishing company for several years. I was engaged in a ministry that made the Bible known and available to all. I belonged to an honorable industry that upheld the Word of God, literally and figuratively. And yet, like Elijah, I became disillusioned. I could not connect my day-to-day admin grind with the overall vision of sharing God’s Word. I was cooped up in the office, far from where the real battle was, or so I thought. I started nursing the reasons why I should leave. “What am I doing here?” became my escape plan. As I focused more on my mounting workload, overwhelming responsibilities, and never-ending tasks, I lost sight of the greater purpose the Bible Society was created for. Or why I was called into that ministry. Deep in my heart, I was on the run. And I was headed right into the wilderness of my mind.

For all its negative connotations, there is an openness, a beautiful vulnerability, that the wilderness offers. Out in the open, exposed before God, Elijah saw His full power displayed in a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks. He shook with the earthquake that ensued after the storm. He even witnessed the blazing fire that followed soon after. But it was only in the silence of the soft whisper that he finally recognized God’s glory and sovereignty. And, in that moment, he fully grasped what God was asking him.

Much like Elijah’s experience, in the silence of that office, and in the midst of my nocturnal mental exercise, God met me. And that was then I realized I was perfectly where I was supposed to be, designed exactly for what I was meant to fulfill. I am but an instrument for His honor and praise. Nothing more, nothing less. Indeed, it is not always the great strong winds that break our pride, nor the violent earthquakes that expose our selfish desires. Sometimes, not even the raging fires can reveal our vanities. But always, God’s voice is most clear when we are still before Him. All other noises diminish as listening to Him becomes priority.

“What are you doing here?” A direct question – personal and probing, yet tender and full of compassion. Yet, all the while, I was hearing it differently. I was bent on the word “you,” translated to “me” in the first person. This question shifts when the emphasis is on the word “here.” From this perspective, God is drawing attention to our present circumstances. Lovingly, He nudges us to come out from where we are hiding. Rather than pamper the “me,” He gently redirects our vision to the higher calling and leads us towards it. Wherever His question finds us, whatever cave or wilderness we see ourselves in now, may our response always reflect the desire to carry on, one step at a time, from our “here.”

Dawn Moran Castro is a behavioral therapist, communications specialist, discipler, executive assistant, psychometrician, researcher, and Sunday School teacher in various seasons of her life. She finished her Master’s degree in Industrial Relations from the School of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of the Philippines Diliman. She resigned from the Philippine Bible Society to embrace for the present her role as wife and mother. She was born in a refugee camp in Bataan, grew up in Jeddah, and lived long-term in Manila. Today, she lives in Laguna with her husband and two children. She dreams of her very own family library and authoring a book.

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