Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Checking Box #3

In the tradition I grew up in, church people really liked keeping track of certain stuff. At the end of a church service, or revival meeting or youth camp, someone would get up at the end with a handful of cards and read the "results." The Big 3 were always the same. They were: 1. # saved. 2. # of rededications of faith. 3. # of surrenduring to the call of the ministry. I just realized that in my 43 years, I never checked box #3. I checked box #1 when I was 17, and checked box #2 countless times before that, thinking I had checked box #1, but the elusive box #3 never got a mark by my golf pencil. When I decided to go to seminary after college, it just made good sense. It was something I wanted to do. I wanted to work with university students. I didn't go kicking and screaming. Surrender never entered my mind. No need to check box #3. I could not relate to my friends who said God was calling them to surrender to the ministry. "Surrender? It sounds like you're going to spend the rest of your life doing something you hate." "Yes, isn't it great?" I just never got it. Some dude asked me if I've ever read Desiring God. I would say that the ideas in that book have shaped my thinking as much as any. That's why surrender never made sense to me, until I realized we are surrendering in order gain joy. Here's the surrender part of box #3 that I never expected to have to deal with 1. Believing you have been gifted to create something new, but your leaders don't understand it. 2. Having to choose between what you think has been God's leading or continuing in a path that your leaders understand. 3. Facing the rejection of your leaders, despite your plea for their blessing. 4. Being told, "We don't know what to do with you." 5. Cutting yourself off from the community you loved and served in order to try and do the right thing. 6. Wondering if anyone else believes in what you're doing. 7. Feeling desperately alone. Who knew checking box # 3 would be so complicated?

6 comments:

GuyMuse said...

After reading your seven surrenders, sounds to me like you are prime church planting missionary material! Have you ever prayed about going overseas? "The fields are ripe for harvest, but the laborers few..."

Good post.

Watchman said...

guymuse,

interestingly, the first several years as after my faith experience, I just assumed that's where I should be headed. Having several friends who are doing just that, it never seemed to be what clicked for us.

Blythe Lane said...

Yes, who knew Box #3 was so complicated...and carried with it such a world of hurt and isolation? Totally resonates...

Bryan Riley said...

Consider going. YWAM's a great organization.

Brittany said...

My husband’s father died 2 years ago. At the time, I was buying into a non-denominational teaching that said, “If you believe, you will receive.” Well, I believed and prayed and believed some more, and still I didn’t receive the healing for my father-in-law. This caused me to step back and re-evaluate what I believe, and to realize a startling truth: I’ve never known God as powerful. I’ve experienced Him as Friend, Savior, Lord and Father, but I cannot say I have ever seen or experienced His power. When my father-in-law died I remember screaming at God, “Just once, I want to see a bad situation radically change simply because of Your intervention. I want the change to be so miraculous that no one can claim it was the work of science, doctors, nature or time.”

Two years later I’m still expectantly looking to see the power of God. It seems to have become a barrier for me because I’m not sure what the point of prayer is if I can’t say with assurance that God hears and answers prayer.

Is that heresy?

Watchman said...

I'm not sure I would call it heresy, maybe you're just saying, "ouch!"

Grief is a grossly overlooked experience in the church. Look at its music. How many songs of grief does it sing? Not many, by my count. It's all so positive and encouraging....

We talk ourselves out of things all the time. We explain too many things away, when we should really be more like Jacob and be willing to wrestle with God over the matter. Take for example the trite saying, "If God feels far off, guess who moved?" The basic assumption is that its you that's moved, and that you are a goof ball and don't get it. Where did we come up with that kind of advice?

I'm more inclined to answer the question as such: "I'm not sure, but I'm going to find out!" Job said he couldn't find God anywhere, but he was convinced that He would eventually find Him, and would experience his refining work.

Never give up the longing to know God's power, and when it hurts along the way, keep saying "ouch!" It keeps us human. keeps us real.