Five months ago today, I was on the internet reviewing the educational options of seminaries across the country. Should I get an M. Div., or MA? Should I consider a pastoral or missions concentration and can I even get through a masters degree program? Can I learn Hebrew or Greek? Am I to old? How will I pay for it? Do I need more education? Will it lead to a new beginning? Eugene Peterson says, “Pastors are the persons in the church communities who repeat and insist on the kingdom realities against the world appearances, and who therefore must be apocalyptic.” Can I stand resolute in my own convictions? Can I communicate with “crimson urgency and purple crisis” a clear message of hope to others? Am I living in the Spirit? Am I being an example of this blessed life? I want to pastor and love people, but am I doing it now? All these self-doubts loom over me.
I was trying to envision where my wife and my lives might fit into God’s plan for ministry in the church, missions or the work place? I shared some thoughts with my wife. I told her I did not want to have the job description of a modern day pastor: “Someone who runs a church.” I have managed a couple of businesses now and my guess is that running a church would be even more frustrating. What I really want is to uncover what is covered up, “repeat and insist on the kingdom realities!” I want to be a greater man of prayer and make the time for reflection and study. I want to put self-importance behind me and make time for people. I want to listen and love people into the presence of God.
With the intention of being encouraging, she suggested that I can be doing these things now, and my inner critic said, “Yes… she’s right… you don’t do these things enough now, so how will you do them in the future. You are naive and foolish to think you could serve God and people. You just want to feel important, intelligent, enlightened! You really don’t like people, you can’t relate. Why didn’t you avoid that argument at work or with your partners for that matter? How much have you prayed and studied this week? What is your stance on salvation anyway? Would a God of love be so ambiguous? You are delusional and a failure! What do you have to offer?”
I left the room agreeing with my wife’s comment but secretly feeling overwhelmed with these self-doubts. It was then that I realized or possibly that God pulled the veil from my eyes and I saw that these accusations were malicious! They want to steal the gifts that the Father has given me! I am his offspring and his Spirit abides with me! God has given me all things with his Son. God displays his glory in my weakness if I rely on him. Through inner logic I know these things to be true. The Lord has brought me to this place of new decision. Listen to what the Spirit is saying… “I have put this desire in you. You are my child. You are a new creature. This is a reality, not just self-talk! I want you to uncover what is covered up, you are a light! The Spirit of God lives in you!”
How often do we let these accusations douse the fire that God has ignited in our souls. The apocalyptic pastor says, “But you belong. The Holy One anointed you, and you all know it. I haven't been writing this to tell you something you don't know, but to confirm the truth you do know, and to remind you that the truth doesn't breed lies” (1 John. 2:21).