The last five or six years have been really interesting in our life. There have been good times, bad ones as well and then of course the obligatory downright frightening ones. My kids are getting bigger and bigger, my age is going up and up. My eyes are beginning to betray me, especially when I have to read some fine print, who knew I would have to take off my glasses to see the small stuff, course if I am wearing my contacts it’s the whole far away close thing or squint. Anyway I digress.
My family is an integral part of my life, but the journey that I’m talking about is more of a personal one. If you had asked me 5 years ago, shoot if you had asked me 2 years ago what I would be doing when I turned 40, I would have said that I would be subbing at my wife’s school, or doing some sort of IT work, both of which have happened. I would have said that as sad as it is the whole ministry as a vocation thing is probably over. I’m 40 and I never really thought of myself as anything but a youth or young adult pastor. I would get glimpses of what I could do. I would pray, I wrote out ministry plans to start new churches, bounced them off other people I respected, but never really thought much past that. J and I would talk about what would happen if we were Lead Pastors, I was sending resumes out left and right for all kinds of positions, even lead pastor positions, even did several interviews for student ministry stuff. Worked part time at a couple of churches as a ministry coordinator, but that was it. As the mileage counter clicked to 40 I told J that no one was going to hire a 40 year old guy to be a student ministries pastor. I did some interviews, even got to the finish line of a couple only to be passed by another candidate on the way to the tape. It was hard to always be second, but I figured this was the way it was going to be. I would work IT and volunteer at the church we are attending and let that be the way things were…I couldn’t shake that calling that I felt God had given me, I felt like I was sitting on the gifts that God has given me because no one wanted me. Amazing really how we can dig holes of pity, remorse, regret, and pride then jump down in them, looking up from our hole and tell the people looking down in on us that we understand, that God lets people go through things, we like to talk about 1 Cor. 13, wear it like a badge of honor, saying God won’t give me things I can’t handle. The problem is how we read that verse. We like to lump all the trials in our life into this non existent verse. If we read it properly in context… well here look at the whole thing.
1 Corinthians 10:13-14 (NLT)
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.
See it is not trouble or trials it’s temptation. It’s the things that tend to drag us down, that want to pull our focus from God. God tells us he will show us the way out of the temptation, the way to get away from the thing that could potentially pull us away from Him, he didn’t say he would make it easy, the verse doesn’t say God will pull you out of the trouble. It doesn’t even say there will be big neon signs and a wide exit lane out of the temptation. It says there will be a way provided out of the temptation. It also doesn’t say if we take the way out things will be rosy, it says he’ll provide a way out of the temptation so we can endure. Endure is one of those words that denotes work involved, that says there is going to be some difficulty, some pain, some hardship. I love running, but due to my leg being messed up earlier this year, the doctor said I had to quite running for a while, now that it’s healed I have some work to do to build up the muscles around the bone, I will then be able to start running again, and I’m going to have to rebuild the endurance that I had worked hard to achieve. It’s the same thing with the whole temptation thing with God. He’s not going to make it easy, he’s not saying that there is going to be an easy way out of it. He’s saying there will be a way out to endure the temptation.
Anyway back to the Journey that ended at a beginning. I’ve been walking this journey of being a pastor that no one wants for so long that I figured that was how things were going to continue. J kept telling me God was keeping something for me, that he was letting me do all these things so that I could really minister somewhere. She said that she wished instead of identifying with Job when things were sad she wished I could identify with Joshua. It is in this vein that things happened. See back in June I had sent out yet another resume to a church in Baltimore. J and I drove over to check it out and get a tour, in the process we met with one of the people on the search committee, from there we had a second interview, but it happened so much later that I really wondered. We finished up the first official interview, headed back out to check out a neighborhood festival to get an idea of the people we would be serving. I had a burden for Locust Point. I never really undersold that concept but I think I do now. I get it, the people of this community and the people in the church were on my heart. I prayed for them, I prayed for the church, and I wanted to plan ministry, to do all sorts of work for this church that I wasn’t guaranteed to be working at, in fact if past performance equaled future results it would be just another we like you but.
It got quiet. What was going to be a decision made in October, kept getting pushed back, then one Sunday I got a call that they wanted to do a second interview. I was really happy about that but it was strange because once again it got silent. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then New Years passed with nothing and I just chalked it up to one of the other people got the nod.
Then I got an email, asking for a date in January to meet with me. The last two Sunday’s had been taken but the second one was open. I said sure, pulled out the ministry plan I had been working on and that I felt was the direction God wanted the church in Locust point to go, prayed and we headed out there on a Sunday afternoon to what promised to be the final interview. They were lining the candidates up in the month of January and just like Highlander there could be only one. Final interview went well, and out the church doors we went to look at one of the hosing options for the pastor when the committee called the guy that was going to show us around back in. It was urgent they said.
We toured the house and I told them I looked forward to hearing from them in February, secretly figuring it would be at least March before a decision was made and when it happened it would be another “you’re great but.” Imagine my surprise when they said well we are canceling the other interviews. We want you to be our Pastor.
I figure the title is self explanatory now. It’s been a long journey to full time ministry, and well that’s where this whole thing begins.