Friday, August 21, 2009

Living on the Edges

It has been so long since I last posted I had to see what I had written. And it may be my greatest understatement of all time when I say that a lot has transpired since I last wrote.

For the first time in my adult life I am no longer starting or leading a church. There is no big story to report; this has been brewing for a long time. I just couldn't come to grips with what my heart was telling me. Now, the time has come to follow through on my commitment to Christ in a different venue. I am working in the secular work place.

Once upon a time . . .

Early on, as a church planter, I spent most of my time around un-churched people. God's gift to me was the ability to build relationships with people from a world so different from life inside the institution of the church. During that time, those in the churches I led knew that they possessed the gifts to minister to each other, and so they never felt like my absence from them was a case of neglect. Focusing on those not yet spiritually accounted for seemed like the right thing for their pastor to be radically committed to.

Over the years, however, I found that I was giving less and less time (actually no time) to building a bridge to those whom Christ came to redeem. To use biblical metaphor--the ninety-nine in the fold became my priority, and the one outside the fold was talked about, but never pursued. Can I be blunt? There are many witnesses who could stand and testify that I really suck at staying in the fold. They are absolutely correct, and I don't believe they would be trying to be unkind in saying so. Although I dare not speak for every pastor, for me personally, I don't believe staying with the herd or flock is where my gifts would be best invested.

I am sure that Jesus didn't (I know. I am not Jesus).

It is a tough transition, but not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. However, there is a lot to be said about the security, identity, and familiarity that leading a faith community on daily basis provides. Those who know me best, know that I struggle with insecurity and the need to be needed and accepted.

But all is well. . .

My friends within the church are still my friends.

We still talk--there is goodwill.

We still love and respect each other.

We still want to see the same end result--the advancement of Christ's Kingdom.

My brothers and sisters release me with their full blessing.

It is agreed. . . Bill will best enjoy the adventure and employ the gifts God gave him out on the edges.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Night Vision

There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.
~ Aragorn (Lord of the Rings)

When the valley I walk through is darkened by death shadows--I will fear no evil. For You are with me.
~ King David

Aragorn's quote sometimes seems backwards. In reality, though not always openly confessed, I sometimes wish I had refused some adventures--rather than choosing to begin them. Especially--when in the end--I am surrounded by spiritual darkness. Positive self-talk does little to ease my fear, rebuild a healthy self confidence, or answer my deepest questions as to why things concluded the way they did.

Then, there is David's quote. Think about it. Many an evening David's bed was a lush green pasture. and His quilted comforter was a shimmering covering of stars. When he awakened to a new day, he set out on a meditative stroll along water so still its surface looked like a mirror. With every step he absorbed energy, and spiritual renewal pulsed through his soul. With each step--vigor was restored.

Then, another step or two and--just like that--he found himself in a dark and shadowy place. A place of thick ebony night so dense he even lost sight of his God. But what his sight could not see, his heart could feel--the Presence. He was not alone. This too, was part of the journey.He had made the right choice. Rather than refuse this leg of the journey he stepped into it, and found that its dark ending was a portal to a new beginning.