I tried to warn you all that April might be a bad month for posting regularity, and sure enough that was the case. Graduate studies, a new ministry opportunity, and doing everything that necessary to prepare for the birth of our third child has left me short on time. But I’m getting back in the saddle.
As I start blogging again, I thought I would kick things off with a reflection of sorts. I’m going through a real season of challenge in my life and I think I have the courage to share it with you all here. Let me also say that I am not intending this to be some sort of catharsis where I throw out all of my problems on unsuspecting readers. I tell my children not to be whiners and so I hope to follow my own advice.
In the fall of 2003 I started my college education thinking that I would go into broadcasting of some sort. A year later, after what I thought to be some pretty definitive promptings by God, I changed to a biblical studies/pre-seminary course of study and never looked back. Over the course of what will soon be ten years, I completed college, got married, bought a house, had two (going on three) kids, finished two graduate degrees, pastored part-time at three different churches, and tried to find work that paid enough to get us by in the midst of a bad economy. It has been a journey…a rough, tough, and draining journey. I’m blessed to have a wife that was willing to go through everything with me, though we did have our struggles at first trying to figure out how in the world we were going to make it financially. Furthermore, finding a schedule that gave me any sort of quality time with my family was difficult to say the least.
So here I am, almost ten years after I decided to study theology and ministry wondering why things aren’t getting any easier, wondering if I made bad choices that I thought were good ones. Part of this questioning starts every time I get passed up for a job that I’m applying for just to make ends meet. I got another, “we went with someone else” call this morning and it just leaves me wondering what in the world is going on.
Part of the issue is that many folks don’t know how to translate my pastoral experience and education into a “secular” work environment. Another factor is that my work history doesn’t include me working at any one particular place for 5-10 years, because I chose to get part-time or seasonal jobs that would supplement the vocational ministry work that I was doing. It feels like I’m being punished for that…so to speak. But all of this aside, there’s one thing that I’m troubled by the most, and it doesn’t have anything to do with employers “not getting what I bring to the table”.
I am most troubled by the intensity of my desire for something that isn’t God himself.
As I was waiting for this most recent potential employer to give me a call I realized that hearing from him elicited more anticipation in my inner being that hearing the voice of God. I think of the words of the Psalmist:
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1)
This is the sort of anticipation I’m in desperate need of, regardless of other circumstances. To thirst for God like one thirsts for water in the desert. I didn’t fully grasp the power of this image until I actually went to the Judean dessert. If there was a stronger word for thirst, that would be the place to use it!
So here’s to longing for God in this season of my life, where I have no idea how things are going to work out, and where I’m up against some pretty tough odds. May I abide in his saving grace, longing for his presence in a parched land where there is no water.