Monday, July 18

You are no longer a child

““Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put My words into your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:6-10

It has been a harsh couple of weeks as the job searching becomes more and more defeating each and every day. The ‘dream job,’ that one outside of full time ministry, seemed to be in the basket as I had applied to the posting and actually, for once out of the 500 some odd job applications to the State of Michigan, received a call back. I was set for an interview for Monday, July 11th at 11:00am in Jackson Michigan and was really looking forward to knocking the socks off the panel I would be going before. This was a position that the Veteran employment assistance officer told me on our first meeting was made for me, with my chaplain background and other service-related skills. It was a position that she introduced me a few months back as “this is the guy” to the state-level director and the area-director of the Veteran Affairs Department of the State of Michigan. It was, to borrow the phrase….”in the bag.”

Someone I knew was in the hospital, shockingly hit with some complications that even they didn’t expect, and I was on the way to see them. The Area Director for the Northern Michigan Area for the Veteran Affairs called me and asked the question that would destroy everything…..”Do you have 60 college credits?” Turns out he couldn’t even have them interview me without them, which I only had 24. The ‘dream job’ was gone. And then I received a text from friend informing me that my family and I were asked not to come and see the hospitalized person. The combination, more complicated than what I’ve alluded to here, was enough to send me in a tail spin. My post on Facebook said it all,

“Tomorrow I go and pick up the suit that I was dry cleaning for the interview I no longer have because of the 'paper' requirements I cannot fill. My life, my testimony and my faith are all based on my experience and experiences that I have had in the forty-three years I've lived. Does this mean that my faith, my testimony and my life are useless?”

The LORD sent my brothers to my defense; to comfort me and to give me the moment I needed to get my breath back. Funny thing is, most of them I’ve never had the opportunity to meet. We have been friends on Facebook and a few other men-ministry websites. But they didn’t hesitate to come to a brother’s aid and surround him while he was gasping for air.

A few days later I found out that another job was denied me because of a DUI I had received some 15 years ago. The supervisor for the contractor who provides the bus service for the Ann Arbor School District, among others, said I was “Jeffrey Fieger” lawsuit material if something were to go wrong. Jeffrey Fieger is a well-known and somewhat flamboyant lawyer who has defended or prosecuted several high profile cases as well as a failed attempt at the Governorship of Michigan. I couldn’t believe it.

Apparently God is the only One who forgives and wipes the slate clean. Yet, He put humans ‘in charge’ of His church and even they said I wasn’t ‘qualified’ to be a full-time minister in its hallowed walls. To say I’ve hit the lowest point in my life, especially since my eternal one began that February day, would be the understatement of the year. Even when I was homeless, even when I attempted suicide and even when I found out that someone who ‘loved’ me also gave that to someone else…..nothing compared to the blows that have hammered me the last few weeks.

R.C. Sproul is quoted in a book that a dear brother in Christ sent me with the admonishment to ‘underline, pray, think and write about’ what I would read. Sproul says, “Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.”

“Crazy Love; Overwhelmed by a Relentless God” written by Francis Chan (with Danae Yankoski).

Some books capture your attention and draw you into the path the author desires….and you feel happily fed as you stroll along the journey. Others leave you empty and lost, wondering if you’ll ever get the moments you spent on the dribble back or if its simply lost in the sands of time. Then there are the books that you wish you hadn’t picked up because the truth exposed leaves you fearful, delighted, worried, happy and so many other gambits of emotion that you are exhausted just reading it…..

and that’s only by chapter three.

Chan doesn’t apologize, for that is his very intent to bring you to the point where you identify with the secondary title…..overwhelmed. He even says, “This book is written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don’t want to plateau, those who would rather die before their convictions do.”

Those who are overwhelmed by a God who is relentless.

I have discovered the improbable, impossible and predictably unpredictable dreams of God’s purpose for me. I have faced the impossible wall of human rejection of what that dreaming produces. I have come to realize that life will never be comfortable on a human level pursuing a God-level purpose. And it has brought me to my knees; in fear and in overwhelmed awe.

Chan expressed my crippling disappointment in the job market, the ministry field and interactions with those who are as human as I……

“This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God. We forget that we already have everything we need in Him. Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved. We are to fear Him.”

A humbling in this place. But even now, as the forces array against me and my brothers, even as the sky darkens in the tempest of the storm and even as my strength flees me, I know. I am no longer a child, no longer swayed by foolish things and foolish thoughts. I don't serve myself or man, I serve a mighty and awesome God.

And He is worthy of all praise.

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