It has been almost exactly a year since my wife and I were confronted with the harsh reality that we needed to find some other option than our plan at the time of continuing to minister full-time with The Navigators in Northern California. I have intentionally not shared much publicly (here on the blog or otherwise) about the reasons, process, etc etc etc. While we appropriately mourn some losses from the previous seasons in our life we also rejoice in the faithfulness of God as he has led us and provided for us in the new and at times frightening season. We have set him continually before us and because he is at our right hand, we shall not be shaken.
I reference these past events and trials not to dredge up the past but instead to say that when I read Jared Wilson’s (no, not Jarrid Wilson) piece on Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s new website For the Church, well…it spoke to me right where I’m at. If you’ve suffered discouragement, disappointment, fear, confusion, or hurt in a transition (to/from ministry or otherwise) and life hasn’t gone the way you’d hoped, I recommend checking it out. We need to be reminded of the gospel every single day: by ourselves and by others. Here’s a preview to give you a taste:
If you find yourself constantly measuring, constantly frustrated, constantly seeing all you don’t have, Bonhoeffer actually says you should be glad that God has led you into this predicament, because it means you’re realizing you have a wish-dream that needs to be “shattered by God” (his words).
Bound up in Isaac were all of Abraham’s hopes and dreams. Isaac was the child God promised. Isaac was the child Abraham and Sarah had schemed to conceive in ways other than by God’s providence. Isaac was his parents’ wish-dream. And I imagine Abraham had a vision for how God’s promise to multiply his descendants and expand his legacy into eternity would play out, and I imagine this lonely scenario of taking the wish-dream up the mountain to slay it was not it.
Whatever it is, we all have a vision for how life is supposed to go, what life is supposed to be like, what we want and how we want it and the way we want to feel about it, but then actual life happens, and when our heart is tuned to only find joy in the dream, we will never find joy, because we’ve placed it in a mirage.
For the rest of Jared’s story of leaving one ministry for another and his thoughts on Bonhoeffer, Abraham, and what God might be up to in scenarios like this, click here. I hope it encourages you as it did me and that all of us are continually redirected to the truth of the gospel.
Hallelujah for the good news that the only place we could find joy is in the presence of One who graciously, relentlessly, and faithfully invites us just as we are. As Augustine famously said of God, “Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”