Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Return to blogging: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax

House of Heroes "God Save The Foolish Kings" lyrics video from Gotee Records on Vimeo.

The rather ludicrous title of this my first blog post in a month alludes to the disjointed, disconnected nature of what I’m about to write.  I freely confess that this post is far less for your benefit than it is mine.  But at the same time I hope that my insights may prove beneficial to you at some time in your life, as well.

About a month ago, I realized that for a long, long time—far too long, really—I had been carrying a weight that I was never given to carry.  When the Lord calls a pastor, He calls him to carry a number of burdens: the burden of proper distinction of Law and Gospel, the burden of publicly walking in righteousness and even more publicly clinging to the cross in the midst of personal unrighteousness.  The Lord calls the pastor to carry the burden of the people; both their cares and concerns as well as the burden of the people themselves as they act sometimes as saint, sometimes as sinner.  God calls pastors to the burdensome ministry of calling people to repentance, of comforting them with Gospel, and exhorting them to have Christ at the very center of their being and doing.

But not once, ever, does God call a pastor to carry the burden of the work only He can do.  God entrusts work to pastors, but leaves the matter of results to Himself.

And yet . . . that’s the very load I was carrying.  My own weak, frail, narrow shoulders tried to heft a yoke that only fits His strong, broad ones.  I was trying to recreate the feat of Atlas, hefting the world upon my shoulders. 

I held myself responsible for achieving results in an arena that God alone dwells: the transformation of hearts and the reigniting of a church.

It’s a long, lonely, fruitless, endless road to walk down.  I got to the end of my rope and fell off, only to be caught by God Himself.  In classic God fashion, He was apparently waiting for that moment to rescue me from my own foolishness.  Waiting for me to wear myself out bashing my head against a wall so that I’d finally fall on my back; strength exhausted but with my eyes finally upward.

I’m not sure what happens next; my field of vision is extremely limited.  I know what I can see: that my church is in a financial crunch the likes of which it has never seen before.  That for all intents and purposes it is humanly impossible for them to continue forward with a full-time minister.  And yet I also see that despite all odds God has indeed brought us forward step by halting step.

I also know what I believe: that God is always faithful, always true, always merciful, and always victorious.  I have read and believe His promises that His church will endure, that His Gospel will go forth, that hearts and lives and people will be forever transformed from the inside-out as His redeeming work goes resolutely forth through His Word and through His Sacraments.

What I don’t know are those things beyond my ability to see.  Those are the things that worry at me.  Will God call me to another church?  Has He prepared another man to take my mantle of ministry here?  Will the people I love have a shepherd?  Or has He been working to keep us here?  Will we endure this as a light and momentary trouble?  Will we have a story of an unforeseen, God-sized victory?

Where does my next paycheck come from?  What happens on the day when it doesn’t?  How can I find work in Michigan’s economy, and how can I create work if I can’t find it?  What shall we eat?  What shall we wear?

Let me say it again:  I.  Do.  Not.  Know.  And it scares the death out of me. 

But stronger in me than death is the One who has gone through death into life.  Greater is the One who is in me than the one who is in the world.  My fears must content themselves with cowering in the corner as fears do.  I have no choice but to fling myself headlong into the maelstrom armed only with the knowledge that no matter what may come, it has already been prepared to bring good and not harm into my life. 

My fears can take a flying leap.  As a matter of fact, they have to, because I’m jumping off the mist-shrouded cliff hoping there’s water below that I can’t see.  I’m leaping from a perfectly good airplane trusting that the chute will open at the proper time.  I’m BASE jumping off the tower I’ve built to the Heavens in an attempt to see from the vantage point of God. 

So for the time being, I’m doing what today demands.  A little freelance writing to earn some money on the side and provide a wee bit of relief to the church’s financial burdens.  Grocery shopping to feed the family.  Prayer for the flock.  Sermon preparation for Sunday.  Catechism for new adult disciples as well as teenagers just beginning to make their parent’s faith their own.  Listening for God’s voice.  Trusting in His promises.  Doing the things that I can, trusting Him for those things that I cannot.

God will have to work out the future alone.  I'm pretty sure He can handle it far better than I.  


  1. Rev. Tony Masinelli3:11 PM

    Very, very well done. Wow.

  2. Raw and honest. That's what the world needs from Christians.