Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hello, old friend . . .

Well now, isn't that interesting. Been over a year since I've blogged. What happened?

Did I run out of things to say? I hardly think so. My profession demands that I say things on a continuous basis. So what happened?

I suppose you (and I) deserve a fairly honest evaluation. I suppose that in some ways I could say that the well ran dry. There's no doubt that God has been faithful to me and I have always remained His precious child. Not only that, but I have remained faithful to my calling as pastor to His church as I preached, teached, and administered His Sacraments to His people.

Not only that, but I can also say that I've honestly been seeking His face, trying to discern His will and direction for the church He has given me to shepherd. And I've remained connected to Him through studying His Word.

Nevertheless, I've felt a number of times over the past year that I was spiritually disconnected from Him in some fashion. Theologically, of course, I realize that this isn't accurate to say, as He has faithfully kept me connected to Him through His Word and Sacraments. But while that is true, it doesn't prevent me from feeling disconnected.

I think over the great prophets of the past and realize afresh that they all had periods of dryness, times when they felt distant from God. Moses . . . Elijah . . . John the Baptist . . . heck, even Jesus Himself. And while I am loathe to place myself in the category of these greats (or, for that matter, alongside the incarnate God Himself! :)), it's still true that I have experienced something of what they experienced. I've had questions about my calling. I've had doubts about my abilities to properly lead His flock. I've had opposition. And yeah . . . I've despaired of God's apparent lack of presence in my life.

But see, this is the main thing: Doubts do not equal reality. Questions do not restructure what truly is. While these things seem to remake life into their own image, the reality is that they are powerless to overcome the truth: that God has called me, that God has gifted me, that God has placed me where I am today and that He has led me--often unseen--through my wilderness wanderings and established me in a land that was previously unknown to me.

Which of course is nothing more than a way to say that while I've been away, God has been working in my life. And what He has done is made me stronger. More confident. But at the same time, He's made me more humble, more dependent upon Him . . . which, I guess, is to say that He's conformed me more to the image of His Son.

I've emerged from the wilderness without often having been aware that I was on a journey. What I considered struggles God considered lessons. What I considered hardships God considered bodybuilding. What I considered dryness . . . God considered a purifying season in the wilderness.

I don't know what season in my life is coming next. Naturally, I'd love a season of prosperity and peace and strength, but of course it's not me that gets to determine where God may lead. But what He has done is caused me to be more aware that no matter what may come, He has His good purposes for it. I only pray that He may offer His strength to me so that--regardless of the circumstances I find myself in--I may be faithful in all my callings as pastor, husband, and father.

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