Recently, I have had the privilege of starting over. Now, if you had asked me even yesterday if it was a privilege, I may have told you where you could stick that question. At the moment I type this, through the wisdom of some people close to me, I can see it with that perspective.
At the end of January of this year, I ran into several issues during the course of my ministry that felt as if God were letting me know that my time in full-time ministry was over and it was time to step away. I had been suffering from excess stress to the point that doctors were finding degenerative disks and eye issues that kept me on steroids for the better part of last year, which affected my sleep and productivity in detrimental ways. Over the latter half 2018 and January of 2019, I had planned for a longer fade-away season, but for complex reasons I will not go into we found ourselves needing to step away sooner rather than later. For the sake of my health, my family’s health, and the church’s well being, as well as for a new calling into a different vocation, we made the decision to step away. It wasn’t made lightly, nor was it made easily.
Now I sit here typing again in a blog I had originally intended to be a log for what I learned prepping for lessons and wanted to pass along to parents. Now this blog seems… well… different. It’s still a place for me to share what I’ve learned from God and his guiding, but those lessons will look different now.
For one, part of my story now includes the ability to reach the end of a period and jump into uncertainty for the promise held in a new path. My daughter is watching her dad go through a second round of college, and learn entirely new jobs and skills to pave the way for a career in counseling.
My daughter has watched us grieve our last ministry position and to ask deeper questions about what it means to be part of a church when we aren’t on staff. We have had to ask questions about what serving means, and how we participate in a church when we don’t have all of the answers, know all of the plans, and may not know every detail of a five-year plan. My daughter, whether she understands it or not, is part of this process of starting over. She is part of the thought pattern now as far as what it means to be part of a church, part of the Kingdom, as a family of lay persons.
We’re having to learn how to live out Deuteronomy 6 without having our entire lives fully committed to a vocation in ministry. We’re learning the difficulties and challenges of incorporating God’s words into every day when we aren’t at the church building 40-50+ hours a week. We’re learning what it means to be a guest, to experience hospitality, to be on the outside. It’s hard.
We have a hope and a promise to cling to. We have a God who is present and alive! And even though we are still working through all of this, we know we have a King who is faithful.
So welcome to the new. Welcome to taking chances. Welcome to taking the first step. And welcome to modeling what it means to live a godly life as an example for your kids.
Welcome to starting over.