Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Give and Take

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

These are Job’s words as his world starts caving in around him, as he loses most of his children in a tragic accident. I’ve been talking with friends lately about weather or not God causes the bad things that happen to us or not, and generally we are not comfortable in saying yes to that. However, I do think that God takes away things that are important to us from time to time to help us remember that it is he that we want. It’s not that I think God takes away things like children or friends, that would be God directly causing catastrophic tragedy, but I do think he will remove us from positions, jobs, relationships, in order to help us keep our eyes fixed on him.

That is where I’m at in life right now. While I was in agreement with God on many levels that it was time for me to step back from my position as a youth minister, it still has been an earth moving change in my life to not be doing fulltime ministry right now. And as I head back on the path leading me once again to fulltime ministry I find the thought of being employed as such in the next year or two as the comforting thought that gets me through tough days. And that puts me in the position of putting my trust and hope in something other than God, and one of the reasons that I think it was important for me to step back from professional ministry for a time. My hope, my trust, my consolation should come from God and God alone.

So in awareness of where my heart is from time to time, I ask myself if I would be okay if I was never employed as a fulltime pastor again. Sure I can come up with all kinds of reasons as to why that would be stupid if it happened, some of them even fairly spiritual. One of the bigger reasons is that God has gifted me as a pastor and I wouldn’t be a good steward of his gifts if I were to never do it again. But then I read the words of Job, and I realize that this calling and these gifts are from God. And as much as it would break my heart to never again do the duties of a pastor, a role that I love for so many reasons, ultimately my purpose in life is to be God’s child and God will go to great lengths to remind me that his love for me is what defines me, not my professional title.

Do I think that I will be a pastor again sometime in the future and that is what God has ordained my life for on this earth? Yes, I fully believe that. But God wants my heart to be in a place that is okay if that were to never happen again. He wants to know, wants me to know, that I would still be as wildly in love with him and trust him in every way even without using my gifts for pastoral ministry. Let it be.


My wife questioned me the other day as to why I haven’t written anything lately for my blog, and since I’m procrastinating from about three or four fairly important tasks that I should be working on this afternoon, I thought I would write something up now.

I actually did have another posting about the Jesus Family Tomb thing that was on TV, but then I realized that nobody really seem to notice or care about it, so I took that post down. I also have been really on edge about my future of late, and I’ve found it hard to write anything really worth sharing. At this point I sense pretty strongly that not only is God calling me back into vocational ministry, but that it will happen sooner rather than later. I’m still waiting to hear if I will be appointed to a church this summer or not. While it is really exciting to know of some of the potential places I might end up as the pastor, it is a becoming nerve racking to just not know. While I know I’ve been stressing about it during waking hours of late, I think it’s starting to affect my sleep as well. In addition to being tired (which also might be a by-product of getting up at 4:00am a couple times a week to go sell coffee), I’ve been feeling like someone’s been taking a pipe to my gut over night. Maybe I should move the softball bat that my wife keeps next to her side of the bed.

As I wait to hear if I’ll be placed at a church I’ve been looking at other options and making some adjustments for the time being. I start this weekend working the overnight a few times a week stocking at the best grocery store chain in the world. There is also a full-time youth pastor position that interests me more than a little. I really hope to get some word by the end of the month about church stuff, the sooner the better.