Okay, I’ve been sitting on this since Dec. 31st. I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. Goal setting? Sure. Progressive, forward-looking vision? Absolutely. Planning for success? Yep. New Year’s Resolution? Meh. Probably not. But as we wrapped up 2019, I sat down on that last day and wrote what at the moment seemed to flow effortlessly. A poem emerged.
And I haven’t done a single thing with it besides re-reading it periodically. Its just been mine. I read it to my wife once and her immediate response was: “So where are you going to post that?” My quick response: “I don’t know. Nowhere for now.” And I’ve held that position for nearly 4 months.
I was and had been in a place of fairly deep reflection on where I’m at in my life. A 46 year old student ministry pastor, I found myself wondering if the well was drying up. I found myself doubting my own relatability to today’s students. I wrestled with thoughts of self-critique and for whatever reason found the shortcomings even more glaring than usual. It was a patch of time when I definitely was doing some question-asking about where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and the difference (or lack of) it had made. Not a pity party. Just a gut-level honest assessment of the past 25 years in full-time ministry to middle school students, high school students, and their families. And I’m not afraid to confess to you that I still carry a low-grade fever in this; a faint whisper that says its time for pasture.
To be clear, I’ve had great conversations with God about all this. I’m not a naive, green, worrisome noob who is wringing his hands over whether he’s got the legs to go the distance. I never did. But what I’ve found over the years is that when I spoke that prayer at the age of 16 years old: “God, I’m Yours. Wherever You want me to go, I’ll go. Whatever You want me to say, I’ll say. Whatever You want me to do, I’ll do.”….well….He took me up on it. The past 25 years has been ALL HIM. If you ever see anything good in me, do me a favor. Look to Jesus and then to my wife. I turn any credit happily over to my Savior and to the woman my Savior gave me.
Okay, that’s what Paul Harvey would have called “the rest of the story” (or part of it. After all, long blog posts are less likely read to the end).
But I wonder if there’s some help for someone else out there. So here I go, sharing my Dec. 31st, 2019 writing.
These thoughts--they spin inside my head, So many are joyful but most that bring dread. They're questions I'm asking or have been asked of me, They toss me around like the stormy sea. These things they are questions that turn into fear, I push them away and again they are near. "I thought you had faith.", one of them scoffs. "You're not supposed to struggle.", another one mocks. And the more I fight to quiet them down, The more likely it seems that in them I'll drown. These thoughts and these questions, these pressures I feel Seem to come from a place that isn't yet healed. A place where my worth is hanging on by a thread Attached to whatever that last person said. A place where I'm measured by what I can do And the moment I fail, I'm useless to you. A place where I'm always just inches away From the rest I keep chasing day after day. Its a place that's born out of a wound from the past, It's something I've buried. That's why it still lasts. It's a place fear tells me will never be at peace Where your disappointment in me will only increase. A place where I strive but no ground is gained, Where the harder I try, the less I've attained. So how can I escape this pressurized cage? And how can I step off this performer's stage? How do I return to where my calling is clear, Where only one voice matters and its the only one I hear? How can I see people with eyes of compassion, And rekindle a faith that is proven by action? God, bring my heart back to where it should be. Where nothing and no one comes between You and me. Where the noise of demands are put into place As my heart rests its gaze on Your glorious face. Where trials may come and perhaps even linger, But even the worst of them are held under Your finger. Where problems arise asking, "What are you going to do?" Step #1, God, I'll give them to You. Where the world may be shouting and pounding my door, I'll have peace in the storm, for my Anchor is sure. God, this is my desire, my resolve, and my prayer. I'm walking with You as You're leading me there. I've seen so much already but there's still more to see, So let your love be seen clearly as You're living through me.
I’d sure like to wrap this up with a nice bow and end with some pithy sage advice that just really gives it that feel of Jerry Springer wrapping up another bloodied episode where he sits in front of that faux brick wall downstage left and gives his “final thoughts”. But that’s too lofty a goal. Instead, I’ll invite you to use this blog post in whatever way is most helpful to you. Read it again, pass it on to a friend who may need it, or keep clicking (with my thanks for reading to the end).
As for me, its more or less a prayer that papers the walls of my brain. I’m continually breathing out gratitude for God’s good faithfulness in my life while simply asking that His good pleasure would include using me however He chooses.