“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederich Buechner
I want you to recall with me that moment or hour where the world stopped. You know when I mean. There was a divine appointment waiting and the faithful Spirit nudged you. At first there was hesitation. What? Really? Serious? But that’s the job of “The Ministry.” Your ego blushed with the thought of embarrassment. Was that kick in the seat really necessary, or even legitimate? Yeah, you needed it. After all, this idea taking shape in your consciousness is way outside the proverbial box. You needed to call someone and meet with them because they needed you.
The phone call was less than satisfying–at least it seemed so. Yes, you could come by but you sensed apprehension at the other end; or maybe a low grade fear. Then panic surfaced in you. “Oh why did I do that?”
In a tentative move forward you approached them. As you gently probed to assess the reception potential your spirit seemed to affirm your boldness. As you talked, you gained a holy confidence and you sensed inner agreement coupled with joy that you just might have heard right.
I have experienced this a few times. On one occasion I called my friend who had just been trashed by the church. I didn’t know details about what had happened but for some reason, I felt he was vulnerable and might even be tempted to abandon his faith. His faithfulness to the system was total, unquestioned loyalty but the system had yielded a final rejection that left him metaphorically swimming in dark, smelly . . . uh, mud. As I drove to his place of business, I second and third guessed this crazy impulse.
He was understandably wary at first. You need to understand that the system we both knew well didn’t condone questions about the system or its decisions. All authority rested with and was wielded by the leaders.
We talked. I encouraged him. Then he and his wife visited my church with me. In time, God lifted him up out of that dark place through a community of love and corporate worship. I still remember looking over at him, his face wet with tears as God washed away pain and rejection. The last time I saw him he reminded me of that day when despair and disappointment lost the battle against Spirit driven love and compassion.
So, you’ve had a moment like that, haven’t you? What did it do to you and for you?
There is a deep, deep hunger in our communities. Oh, it is masked by overt consumerism, leisure, constant business, and entertainment and negative activities like addictions. Anything to keep the mind occupied and avoid facing the empty-ness. Can you hear the deafening quiet of disillusioned, unfulfilled existences?
There is a place where time seems to stop. Where your true calling meets a need pointed out to you by the ever faithful Spirit. I am convinced I pass by these needs every day but I am oblivious or otherwise (read self-focused) occupied.
The Main Street on which the Kingdom of God travels is love. I think love is inert and incomplete when alone or has no object of affection. Love is ordained to be (big, misunderstood word coming) sanctified (perfectly complete or whole) when unconditionally lavished on another. I know from my own flawed existence that it is difficult, if not impossible, to love self-less-ly without Holy Spirit because my nature screams for primary care and feeding.
You might have guessed, I believe we are ALL “The Ministry.” By definition a minister is a servant. Love is the motivation for Spirit-led service. If love is “out of character” for you then get it into your character, then you won’t be a character but carry-er of Shalom, the evidence and presence of the Kingdom of God.
A great post, Gary. Thanks for the conversation today and letting me in on your thoughts – they are most helpful and welcome!