Lead me in the truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. -- Psalm 25: 5
While I wait, I've thought about some things.
the Christian liturgical season of Advent. Advent means 'coming.'
Many mainline churches and liturgically based denominations recognize
the season of Advent to spend most of worship time in December preparing
one's spirit and soul for the coming of Jesus as the triumphant King
of kings and Lord of lords, as well as, the return of the infant to the
manger. It’s a rich tradition of anticipation and rejoicing in our
God who is faithful to fulfill his promises. While there is a coming
of the Messiah, there is, also, a waiting on the part of the faithful.
We're to wait for what is to come and remain devoted and faithful to the King and his kingdom.
I wait, I've thought about some things. That's one of the things
about waiting. You're left to your own thoughts and reflections.
can't sell much of anything. Virtually all of the jobs I've been
offered or worked on leave of absence several years ago or since I left
the UMC are jobs of commerce or direct sales. Except for a job in
radio, I dealt with selling goods or services. Retail or sales
management saw my inquiries for work and assumed, based on my
experience in ministry, I'd do well working with the public and could
easily convince a customer to buy what I offered.
convinced myself of the same assumptions many times, but, the fact is, I
can't sell much of anything. Isn't the gospel a sales pitch? Oh, my
God! It’s the good news of God's love for all. You can't sell that.
That being true, in ministry, as well as in much of my life, I learned
the hard way I was prone to be a 'people pleaser.' This meant I
didn't want anyone upset with me, so I'd seek to please to avoid
disapproval from superiors. That revelation is one of the stepping
stones that's led me to be where I am - not making a career of pleasing
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord. -- Psalm 31: 24
This is another of my thoughts as I wait for his coming.
remember the pain of working at Books-A-Million. I attributed the
pain to being somewhere I wasn't suppose to be. The demands of the job
kept me engulfed in managing a business that was not fulfilling the
calling on my life. If you've never experienced this feeling of being
somewhere and doing something that is not only foreign but incorrect
for you, you'll find this to be a difficult concept.
feelings of being at the wrong place for the wrong purposes, also,
brought on depression and anger. These feelings repeated themselves
before Books-A-Million while I was serving as a pastor in Tuscaloosa. I
served there one year and, then, requested and was granted a leave of
absence from ministry. I knew pastoral ministry was no longer a
passion for me, and I had to leave it for a period of reevaluation.
When I left, I felt like a coward. April, however, told me it was God's
will for me to rest.
While on leave, I
worked for a time in radio, which I loved, but it didn't pay
sufficiently. I was then offered a management job with
Books-A-Million, and the pain I felt as a minister returned. A couple
months later I took a job at a local hotel working the front desk and
washing dishes. I worked there a year and a half without any of that
inner pain of being in the wrong place. While working there and
attending the church April served, I began to hear the voice of God in
ways I'd never experienced before (It was here I heard the Lord reveal
to me Psalm 102: 18-22 in The Message). Through such learning and experiencing, we're
in a position that few have known because of the pain and passion
Since April and I left the UMC to follow a
calling separate from pastoral ministry, I've experienced this inner
pain a couple times when offered and worked jobs in retail and direct
sales. I recognized the pain. I could name it and was not willing to
endure it again. Unemployment isn't always the worst condition for a
skilled and gifted human being in this society.
I felt this same pain again of being in the wrong place for wrong
purposes. I not only felt it as anger and depression, but it compelled
me to desire willfully to leave where we are in pursuit of our destiny
of providing an environment for the Presence of the Lord to bless, save
and heal many on Sand Mountain (This is our calling). With passion
AND anger, I repeatedly said to myself, God and April, "It's time for
us to leave!"
As April and I discussed this recently,
it dawned on me that the pain I felt as a minister in Tuscaloosa and a
bookstore manager drove me to act decisively to leave those positions. I
left the ministry and the store to ultimately put me in a place to
learn to hear the voice of God. I had to learn to hear His voice and to
know when its time to act for the purposes of God.
now time to leave and act for the purposes of God. How all this is to
occur is still a mystery, but experience and recent, subtle encounters
with our God have spoken to me.
When we're in the
season to wait upon the Lord, there's little else to do but to grow
comfortable with the waiting. When that season begins to shift into a
time of action and, perhaps, labor as if there's to be a birth, anxiety
rises. The waiting is drawing to a close. Labor will soon begin.
Advent is a sign post that something is truly coming. Be assured, I'll tell you what comes.