"Of course, godliness with contentment does bring a great profit. For we did not bring anything into the world, and surely we cannot take anything out of it. (1 Timothy 6:6-7 ISV)"
I can't say that I was surprised when I received the call on Friday telling me that due to budget cuts, my position on the team was being cut. I would like to say that it was a mutual decision, but it wasn't and the likelihood of me finding employment like what I had at the job recently departed is a long shot, by no small measure. I have no degree, no college 'almost completed'…just a wealth of experience that has to compete against Masters and PhD level people who are just as willing in the economic climate to bus tables at a sit-down restaurant. Being a single dad doesn't make matters better.
I could easily surrender all hope and crawl into some hole that I carve out of the ground for me to hide in; abandoning my children, my calling and my God….but I can't. Each time today when I browsed the online job banks or highlighted jobs I'd like to do……and despaired because of the 'requirements' for a degree or a wealth of experience well beyond my means….I reflected on what God has done since December of last year….and felt joy return.
It may be the end of life as I know it….but it isn't the end of life.
All I can think of is that whatever God has next, it is going to be something that is immeasurably greater than anything He's done before, for in this place….where so much is stacked against me, the greater is the authority and the provisioning that can only come from God. Here I am; a single father, living with family, with no degree and no prospects other than the one God has burdened my heart with since October of 2004…..that of being a pastor.
That which I once 'believed' have either burned in the fires of this world's trials or become firmly implanted in faith, true faith that has been tested and whittled away to the barest of things and rebuilt through His movement in my life. As Henry Blackaby said, "A crisis of belief can only be overcome with faith and experience. And when God invites you to join Him in His work, it requires major changes." And when God moves in the faithful's life, there are those undeniable things that He does that makes it impossible not to give Him the glory. And that is the essence of witness…..in a world that is bent on denying Him.
As I told my mentor today, maybe this is God's way of pushing me back into the fray, of reigniting my passion in being a Pastor, a teacher of the Word He has left for us to follow, and to help those in the body and without to live life seeking Him and His purpose, not fixing them but helping them in the trials to see His face. He has surely put me through the survival and escape training of my faith. He has brought me to a place I asked so long ago to be brought, to where I could hear only him…where I could have faith only in Him…where His movement is as evident as the stars in the midnight skies….this place.
And He has faithfully brought me here.
The pages of my story are blank…..the ink that lies in the poised pen ready to write another chapter to the testimony of my life; before and since Jesus Christ became my Savior, my friend and my kinsman. I no longer hold that pen, no longer seek with trembling hands to write a legible paragraph of beautiful mercy, total love or even faithful obedience…for what I have written seems so pale, so insignificant compared to the lines of the greater story….the one written by the Master's hand. So, it is He who holds the pen, He who will continue this story of my life in the grandeur tomes of His plan. One cannot help but tremble with anticipation in the lines that He will write…..already His hand has begun to move.
Christianity is not, to me, some label that one puts on Sunday morning on the way to church, where the 'righteousness' of the beliefs they hold lip service to is a heavy fog that travels with them as they cut someone off on the road, are rude to the fast food employees who are pushing their product out the door to make a minimum wage……. Those who leave the church doors quickly to get back to their life, to deal with the 'chores' of the day, that football game, that family gathering or that dinner fat upon their tables. Those who believe God is a coin machine, where they dump the loose change of their desires for His tithe…..
Christianity is godliness….a life, consumed with passionate pursuit of that thirst-ending water….that waits in the Savior's hands. Not denied at any time, but portioned to meet our growth in the relationship God so desires with us….as we grow, the thirst grows but we develop a passion to pass it on to another as we journey home.
Godliness with a contentment…….that nothing in this world can take away…..
So as I wait for my Savior to write the next line for my consumption….as I wait for the chapter's end….I am content, finally, to wait here for Him to move so that I can sing of His glory and His faithfulness…..
Even if this is to be my last chapter…..I know with the Master's hand writing it….it will be a grand adventure indeed.
And I will sing of His glory forever!
And when I stand upon the steps of the White Throne……with all that I have done or am yet to do…..I will give it all away to hear
"Well done, good and faithful servant"