Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The ups and downs

I have just returned from a 3 day retreat. As a group of ordinands, we do this every year, and it is always a wonderful time.

This time, I left with a definite sense of melancholy. Had I used the time right, did I waste the experience, did I really listen to my companions, did I really listen to God?

We discussed our calls to the priesthood and how we think this will look, what it means, all that sort of stuff. It was here that the melancholy kicked in. My call was instantaneous and life changing, like 180 degree turn around. It was completely impossible to ignore and difficult for everyone around me.

My call is still as strong, but what I think my ministry will be is really quite different than what I expected. I probably was in fantasy land in what I thought the job entailed, but the reality seems to be a rather harsh and unforgiving role that seems to ask for disrespect and criticism.

Whinge, whinge, whinge.

All of this would be a complete load of nonsense and absolute awfulness if it wasn't for the presence of the living Christ in each moment of my life.

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Mark 8:34
I don't do it on my own. Christ is with me. But by hokey sometimes it feels like a wrong turn. Sometimes I feel like a complete fraud. Other times I feel like I don't actually know anything. Of course there are other days when it is rolls along smashingly, and it is so clear as to be a blinding light, yet one that soothes the eyes.

This whole priesty thing is easily the biggest challenges I have have had. It has pushed my limits like nothing else, and has made me question my very existence and the existence of God. And it has also given me moments of gentle joy and sublime consciousness.

It is a difficult path, no question about that.


Anonymous said...

You have probably already read "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge. If you have not, I strongly recommend it!
Be comforted in the fact that we all, as men, are searching for our Heart. You have chosen a very brave road that will impact a lot of people by your decision to follow God. Peace be with you always.

orczy said...

Thank you for your kind words. I was a bit disillusioned when I wrote the post. It is difficult to keep the eye on the bigger picture sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I Don't think anyone of us has the bigger picture ever! A sign on a church I pass by everyday said "Minister to the people closest to you every day?" I take that as responding to Christ's instructions to help the people around you. He will take care of the rest. The only control out there is the control that our Lord has for us everyday we wake up!
Never be disilluisioned. What does the scripture say?....a man without vision shall perish? Keep your eye on the ball each day you wake up. Only then can you see that He has given you another day to be the pilgrim marching through this world and making those small impacts and choices! Peace be to you always as you go through your journey. Les

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand said...

I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out. God's blessings. Lloyd

Kat Smith said...

I've been in ministry for the past 15 years. It's all I know. And we are transitioning to something else, but not sure of what. The uneasiness of ministry has been all I've known and it is a constant struggle living one foot in heaven and one on earth. But--I do know that God's plan for my life is GRAND. And although I might now feel comfortable and even 'safe', He is with me as He is also with you. He has called you to something amazing and difficult all at the same time. I understand. He is good. And he loves your honesty. Thanks.

ozark ken said...

For as much as many have taken in hand it seemed good to me also to speak to thee most excellent ordinand. To be disillusioned is human, to see clearly divine. There is nothing more shaking than thinking you know your path and identity and suddenly see it all as if for the first time. Often what we see angers us, reviles us, and confuses us, and the path we ascribed to begins to shake around the edges, or twists, or crumbles under our feet. It is hard very hard to see beyond that focus. You cannot avoid the 'human side' of ministry. That sounds odd since ministry is to humanity, but what I mean is the part where man has his rules and ideas on how God's work should be done. Yes we would love to wander the Judean countryside preaching, healing, ministering unhindered by human influences but only by the call. Yet, many times that is so far from the truth in experience we juggle the demands of men and God. I think one of the simple truths that is perhaps the most helpful is when we minister to others it should be as unto the Lord. Not as unto the Lord because He's watching and we ought to do right, not unto the Lord as an obligation though we owe Him all, but unto the Lord that in every face we see we treat them as if Jesus was standing there in front of us. We will have both compassion for the unlovely in this worlds eye and will be able to endure the drudgery of men's demands because for Christ's sake we choose to love. That is the only pathway I know out of any restricting situation we find ourselves is to love, and that doesn't mean we will feel the love. Love is always first a choice, but you know this, for it is because of love you even began this path. I pray you will find an even ground neither up nor down that is as sure as His love and as steadfast as His unchanging character.

Tricia said...

I'd like to say, as a random person from the blogosphere, that your post is well-timed. The "complete fraud" line really strikes me. Even though I am not on the "ministry" path, I do believe everyone ministers in their own way, and I'm thankful to know that even the pastors have their struggles. We all struggle in the journey, but not alone. We have Christ and we have the Church.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the fact that this might work another way? I am wondering if anyone else has come across something
similar in the past? Let me know your thoughts...

Anonymous said...

Great post – I love your blog!