It might help to give everyone an update on just where I am right now. At least as much as I know about where I am. It’s funny how little I know about that subject at this moment in time.
A quick (and I mean really quick) history of the last 9 or so weeks. Most of you who know me at all know that I’m, at the moment, not employed with a church. It’s the first time since about 1984 in which that has been the case. That in itself is a long story that I chose not to put in writing. I choose that because so much of it can be misunderstood. I’m still not sure I understand all of it myself. I will say this that I’ve come to grips with the fact that some things are just totally out of our control. It really doesn’t matter what “side” you find yourself in church struggles, many times we just can’t control things. I do know this–God can take things that are even out of His will and make something beautiful out of it. If I didn’t believe that, I guess I would be crazy right now.
Anyway, since leaving the paid staff position at a church, I have had to think about where I stand in this world. I kind of always thought I’d be a part of a church in a “ministry position” and that still may be in my future. I don’t think that God has worked on me and my family through all of this to leave us and let us fend for ourselves. I feel that I’m being shaped for something else in the ministry world. I don’t have a clue as to what that looks like, but I feel it strongly.
For the time being, I’m working at Gold’s Gym in Florence. People say, “How’d you end up there?” I usually say, “I saw a sign.” That is literally true. I was driving down Cox Creek Parkway and there it was in big letters, “NOW HIRING IN SALES.” Couldn’t resist that one. LOL. For the past 8 weeks or so, I’ve been doing that work to help pay the bills. It’s not as much money as I would like, but in this economy, I’m just proud to be working. I have, by God’s graces, been very successful so far. The general manager introduced me to a new salesman last week as, “the best salesperson Gold’s has ever had.” That was nice to hear. I don’t say that here to toot my own horn, but to say that God is still blessing us. To Him be the glory.
As I said earlier, I’m still trying to find my way through this time. Each week brings on new challenges, successes, and struggles. I’ve done so much “ministry” since being there. It’s almost like God has opened a door to help me learn some things about our community from a new perspective. I will say this that we, as preachers, are really sheltered from the “real world” much more than I had already thought.
While seeking what it is He is trying to “say” to me, I experienced something that was really strange to me. I don’t know why this would be strange to me except for the things I’ve been taught about this kind of thing. It was a “word from the Lord.” Now, let me say quickly, I wasn’t looking for this kind of thing and it was totally a shock to me. It wasn’t some blast from the sky or loud verbal thing, but it was definitely clear and understandable. The words I heard in a soft verbal tone were, “Bring Them Together.”
Here’s even more of the story. God sent a confirmation to me about this through an individual who knew absolutely nothing about those words. The words came to me on a Friday, I believe, and at that time, only my wife knew that I’d heard this. My friend came to me after our Tuesday night Bible study and said, “I don’t know why I’m supposed to tell you this, but I need to tell you something.” I asked, “What is it?” He said, “I believe that you have been brought to this time in your life to bring unity to the Christians in the Shoals area.”
The next morning in Bible study with a couple of friends, we continued our study of Ephesians. Here is the verse that I centered my thoughts on the night before (after hearing the words of my friend Kevin), (Ephesians 3:6 NCV) “This is that secret: that through the Good News those who are not Jews will share with the Jews in God’s blessing. They belong to the same body, and they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus.” That whole book mentions the “mystery” of Jesus bringing together Jew and Gentile through the good news.
I don’t know about you, but all of this brings about so much emotion. I asked my friend Joe, “What do I do with all of this?” His advise (which I’ve taken) is to just wait and see. His words were, “We’re so task oriented that we think that we are supposed to hurry and ‘do’ something. Why don’t you wait on God?”
That’s where I am. I don’t expect that God has made me to simply sell gym memberships, even though I’m ok with that if that is the case. I just pray that there’s something more than that.
I ask you to pray about this and also to give me what’s on your heart about it. I’m OK with your discomfort about it. God knows that I really don’t know what to do with it myself. I just wait.