Sunday, November 22, 2009

Finding a handle on hope...

There is this continuous struggle in my mind and heart. There exists a tension of discontent that continues to be a struggle. It is between this idea of my own action and releasing things to God and let him do things. What I do vs what God does. I know some who refuse medicine for treating ailment because they trust and have faith that God will heal them. I have also known those that do not believe God moves in this area at all and that we need to trust fully in modern science and technology. The last time I checked this notion of "God helps those that help themselves" is not in the Bible. Where is the line then?

The struggle for me is how much I do vs trust God to do? Is faith diminished because I act. Is faith stronger because I wait for God to move. Or have I missed the sign that God sent me.

I struggled through this with unemployment. I feel my call and passion is for ministry and yet for the last 3 or is it 4 now years I have not been fully employed in a church. Called by God but no phone call by man. I have a friend who says that I just need to trust and wait on God to provide in his timing. I have a friend that says that I need to sell myself better. It seem that there is faith in waiting and in acting. Tell someone that you are an unemployed pastor and they look at you like you are some kind of freak. I actually had someone say that they did not know pastors could be unemployed.

Through the trials of these last years and especially in this journey with Jacob I have become more convinced than ever that who I am as a person, pastor, dad is not defined by my paycheck. Honestly it is really hard because our culture has served to define us in this way. I love being a pastor right now where I am - free to encouraged and love people and direct their attention to Jesus. That is the call - not just for pastors but for all of us. I do not need to be called by man to do what God has called me to do. It is so easy to forget that.

In church this morning the pastor spoke on suffering - it seems like that surrounds us right now. I told a friend of mine that maybe I could be the Pastor of Suffering...

He was talking about Paul and his time of suffering during the shipwreck on his journey. What he said sent me back to Romans and specifically these verses.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1-5

I love these words: justified, peace, access, rejoice, hope... so much could be said in these verses. Paul in the verses before this was writing to help God's people to understand that the message of God, the Gospel, was not just for the Jews but the Gentiles as well. He spoke in terms of Abraham and the promise that God gave them and that it is not our outward conformity and obedience that determines being right with God (justified) but that our inward heart - the circumcision of the heart - that matters. That come through faith.

How do we get to the point of having hope against all hope like Abraham? Godly character is shaped as we persevere through suffering. Perseverance is all about recognizing that God is in this moment with us sustaining us through this storm. Perhaps it is not a decision between waiting for God to move or moving thinking God is not in this. Maybe it is about remain focused through faith that God is in the midst and that knowing God means that my actions and God's actions are so closely connected because I know the heart of God and it is impossible to distinguish the two.

Jesus says that, "I am the Great Shepherd. My sheep know my voice and they follow." I really think that I get so caught up in trying to figure things out that I forget to listen to the voice of Jesus.

The question I left church with this morning is: "what is the difference between acting on our own and obeying in faith?" My answer is still forming as I struggle daily. But In know this: being justified through faith I hold on to peace with God because Jesus Christ provided by faith access to the Father, standing firm in grace. That is the hope of God's glory that causes me to rejoice.

As for Jacob, I really think this is part of the struggle for him too. Each day is a day of struggle between faith that God is with him in this and strength to follow God and take steps to follow the voice of the Shepherd.

This week is one of a few appointments but mostly we are excited to welcome Robbie back home and have a little peace in the midst of family. We are all just excited to be together.

We continue to ask specifically for prayer regarding the graft on Jacob's thumb - "Lord, heal that thumb and allow the skin to live." Also pray for the infection to clear so that we can move on to head surgery as we dwell in Hope in 2010.

In growing peace.

Tom (Daddy)


Einbildungskraft said...

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL of you! you are all together and it is a blessing

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you all. Tom, thanks for keeping a window in your heart for us to see what's going on. My heart breaks for you being an unpaid minister, cuz you surely ARE ministering. But we all know that it's easy to feel our worth comes from a paid position. You are a pastor to the suffering, but also to the non-suffering. Keep on doing whatever He gives you to do and He will supply. (I know, easy for ME to say!) I will keep on praying for your peace while unemployed and God's timing to get you employed.
Jake looks better every time I see him. It's so cool that he goes out and doesn't hide in a shell, waiting for everything to return to the way it used to be. I wanted to give him a hug when I saw him on Sunday, but didn't think he'd be comfortable with that. Wish I could give him the equivalent some other way. Anyway, Danny and I pray almost every school day for Jake.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Robbie home.
Love, Ginger