Not Running Away

I am really surprised at the positive reaction I got to my New Year’s Day post.   A lot of people read that post and many of my friends wrote great comments about it on Facebook.  Thanks to everyone who did either or both!

I did want to clarify, though, that I am merely struggling with some negative feelings, not capitulating to them.  I am a little afraid and uncertain as we move into the new year but not yet ready to give up.  As I said in the original post, I can’t give up because…

That really is true.  I have nowhere else to go but God, nowhere else to go but The Church, nowhere else to go but life, nowhere else to go but the future.  And so, uncertain and afraid or not, that’s where I’ll go.

Beyond that truth, though, there is another truth, one I think I again referenced in the original post.  I’ve been transformed too much to give into these negative feelings.  Remember that transformation is God’s ultimate purpose for us.  We see this in Romans 8:29, where Paul says For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.  I know we might be attracted to that word predestined, but conformed  is actually the more important term here.  God wants us to be conformed or transformed to be like Jesus.  We also see this in Romans 12 and 2 Corinthians 5 and Ephesians 4 and several other places in the Scriptures.  We even see it in a song I heard as a fourteen-year-old, a song which greatly changed how I see my walk with God.

Now I have not been fully transformed.  Not even close.  I’m nowhere near what Jesus was.  That is “the desire of my soul”, but I haven’t gotten it yet.  It does seem, though, that I have been moved a little closer to that goal.  I’ve moved close enough that I no longer act on my feelings as quickly as I used to.  So even though I want to give up, I’ve been transformed enough by the promises of God and the truths of God’s character that I really can’t give up.  I’ve been transformed too much to give up, much as I might want to.

And beyond that truth is another, perhaps the most important one.  I don’t know what to call this truth.  I’m tempted to call it a “theological truth”, but I don’t think that’s exactly right.  The truth comes from a podcast I heard at least a year or more ago.  It was an episode of the Church Leaders podcast.   I know that for a fact.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly which episode of the podcast it was.   All I remember is that the minister being interviewed on this podcast said there came a time in his ministry when he wanted to quit his church.  Things weren’t going well at that church, he thought they might go better at another church, so he wanted to quit (my mentors would say he wanted to abandon his original vision and find a new one; they call this the D2 dance).  He told his wife he wanted to quit, and she said that was fine.  But she also said, “Before you quit, I just want to know one thing: are you following God or are you running away?”  (Or something to that effect; I’m sure I don’t have the words exactly right.)

To his great credit (and his wife’s even greater credit), that minister did not want to run away.  He realized he was about to run away rather than actually follow God, and he didn’t; he chose to stay.  I likewise want to follow God.  I don’t want to run away.  I don’t want to do the D2 dance.

And I probably won’t.  I do appreciate all the concern shown for me after that January 1 post, but I don’t think I’m in danger of the D2 dance or even of depression.  I just feel like I could use some more energy.  I think I could use a little of this:

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(Well, I meant to have the clip where Zeus picks up the statue of the exhausted Perseus, but I couldn’t find it. Guess we’ll just have to make do with this picture.)

And pessimistic though I might sound (or to use the terms of the original post, honest though I might be), I do believe I will get it.  I do believe there is a happy future for me and my family and my church.  God promised there was, so there must be.  I just pray He picks me up a few times on the way there.

Losers Like Us

I’ve been down with a cold the past two days.  Unable to work, I decided to catch up on some books I have purchased but not read.  One of those was Losers Like Us by Daniel Hochhalter.

 

This book was on my Amazon wish list for quite awhile (like so many books, it spent a lot of time on my wish list because I was too cheap to buy it outright).  When I was given a $7 Barnes & Noble credit from some class action suit I was wholly unaware of being in, I finally bought it from them, then converted it through Calibre and put it on my Kindle.

I was attracted to this book for one simple reason: I regard myself as a loser.  I know I’m a loser but I want to do ministry, so a book about losers doing ministry was a no-brainer for me.

I was not disappointed when I finally got around to reading it yesterday.  The book is basically a run-down of Jesus twelve disciples (The Twelve, not counting Matthias or Paul), all of who were losers or at least lacking in one way or another.  Hockhalter not only reveals what these men were lacking, but he also shows how he is lacking that thing as well.  As he puts it, he holds these men in the mirror and sees how he is similar to them.  Along the way, he talks about some of the other ways he has lost in life, including a failure to acquire a PhD.

I liked the book so well I read it in one day (almost one sitting, to be exact).  I thought the author was very brave to share his loser-ness the way he did, and I thought his principle that we are all losers/God uses losers was sound.  I was both convicted and encouraged, and that’s about the best you can ask for.

One particular insight I had as I was reading concerned Jesus’ praying for the twelve on the night before He chose them (Luke 6:12).  I had always figured that Jesus was praying for the ability to chose “the right guys” and that by God’s power He did so.  I see now that there is nothing “right” about these guys, that they weren’t chosen because they were right but right because they were chosen.  I wondered, in fact, if what Jesus was praying for was not the ability to chose correctly but the ability to put up with those who were chosen.  That’s speculation, of course, but the key insight is correct.  There is nothing “right” about these men (except maybe a willingness to follow or a teachable spirit).  And there is nothing “right” about me, either.  I’m not right.  I am a loser.  But I’ve been chosen and can do the work.

I highly recommend this book.  You can get it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  There is also a hard copy for you luddites who don’t use ereaders.