About five o’clock (the eleventh hour) he went out and found some others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why are you standing here all day long without work?’ They told him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He told them, ‘You go into the vineyard as well.’
-Matthew 20:1-7 (ISV)
I have been to college four times. I always noticed a few students who looked old enough to be grandparents. These older people were walking parables of the idea that it is never too late to be a learner or to pursue something.
I recently looked at C. S. Lewis' Shadowlands, that told the story of his marriage, that he partook of later in life. He was definitely in the "confirmed bachelor" season when he married. The content bachelor answered the call to marriage. He had a flexible heart that was childlike and said yes to a wholly new experience. The great teacher was also a learner of something new to him.
In God's economy, people get jobs in the eleventh hour, late in the day. These 'late bloomers' get full benefits and the same pay as the 'early birds'. It does not seem fair, because it is grace. It is sovereign grace. That means the good king does what he wants and it is about him, not us.
Be encouraged that it is never too late. I believe that God's answer in Christ is always 'yes', unless he clearly says 'no'; and God's 'no' sometimes means 'not yet'. Many people have it backwards and live like God's answer is always 'no' and sometimes 'not yet', and rarely 'yes'.
The 'work ethic' was invented by God. God has work for everyone of every age. If you don't have work, God will give you work. Standing in the marketplace means being ready and available. You may not be engaged, but you are ready to be. You have to get up out of bed in the morning, eat breakfast, get dressed, and go out.
If you consider all of the calling stories in the Bible, most people were already doing something when they were called. A few people, like Mary and Joseph were called in a dream, trance, or angelic visit. Only one person was guided by a talking animal.
With rockets, they don't turn on the guidance system until the rocket leaves the pad. You also must leave your pad. When you go out, you will find others who are also looking for work and waiting for the call. You will no longer be isolated and depressed. You will make new friends. You will be a blessing to others and find God's grace for today.
You will find community as you wait together. You will bless each other and be thankful. Inspiration will spring up among you. You will end up worshiping together.
There is no shame in starting late. God's timetable is sovereign. He can raise you up early or late. The pay is the same for both. Late bloomers and early birds are both loved exactly the same by God. We do not compare ourselves to others. Early or late is not better. They are just different.
You may feel like a failure, but you are not one. You are a loved one. You are God's loved child. The goal is love, to be loved and to love. That simple, that is all. Love waits and love trusts its beloved.