I Can’t See

19Feb08

I was talking to a friend this AM via email about unknowns in life. More directly related to ministry and serving in the church.

There are so many times where I go to work and wonder, what I am doing. What am I supposed to do? I feel if I am not busy than I am not accomplishing anything. I feel like if I haven’t done something new or finished a task, than my day has been pointless. Ministry is not a thing. It is an outpouring of my life and who I am. I can be moody (ask my family). I can be happy, or depressed or frustrated or sometimes just completely apathetic.  Sometimes this is in relation to my job and other times, it is just who I am and how I feel.

Sometimes I don’t want to be in ministry full time. It is not that I don’t like it, I think it is that I am too close to it. Something that is a natural outpouring of my life, should not also be something I am required or committed to doing. It can easily become fake or forced. It can easily become function and tasks and no longer relationships and life.

Another aspect of ministry that can be harsh is that I can easily be overextended. There is more work than people to get it done. This inevitably leads to me doing a bunch of stuff ,that I can learn and be good at, but is not what I am created to do. I know what I am gifted at. I know where my passions lie. I know what sparks me and fires me up to create and think and dream. I often find myself doing very little of the things that I believe I have been created to do.

As I was talking to my friend today, I remembered something I had heard said before. When God is close, we have a very hard time seeing anything else. There is a catch in this. We work to control our lives. We work to establish routines and plans that get us from A to B. We try really hard to keep it on pace and focused. In the midst of all this, I have tried my best to listen and be available for whatever God is leading me to be or do. All of a sudden, everything I think, or wish or plan is completely unknown or unseen. I have had a very hard time focusing on those things that I have place as important to my work in ministry. God is close, but I have more questions, not more answers.

I realize that God is close and God is not allowing me to see or understand or control what is around the corner. I realize that the more I try, the less He will produce. I realize that the harder I try to focus, the less I will actually see. I think (like ministry) being close to God can either be an amazing experience, or a forced and fake one. I guess it depends on my surrender to Him.

I don’t know what this means to my future really, but I do know that I am on an amazing journey with God and only He can order, plan and perfect anything that comes my way. I do know that He is doing something new in me and my family and I don’t know what it is. Do you ever feel excited or anxious(in a good way) and you don’t know why? I am there right now. I can’t attribute it to anything except that God is placing inside of me an awareness.

I don’t do patience very well. I am a “do it now and get it done” kind of person. It’s cost me a lot of “experience” opportunities with people and situations. I pray that through this, God gives me a new found patience as He leads me into…

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23 Responses to “I Can’t See”

  1. Brent – I’d like to suggest a great book – a classic, written over 400 years ago! “Practicing His Presence” by Brother Lawrence – first written in 1400 or 1600!

    Be encouraged – God is using you. The biggest danger? I think missing family closeness opportunities. I remember January 1987 – putting my 17 year old son on the bus headed for the U.S. Army. Wham – it hit me! He is gone! Oh I wish I had listen to my family needs just a little better.

    Practice God’s presence with yours and His arms around your family.

  2. I can relate, on a “mom” level of course, about being so overextended that sometimes it feels as if you are going through the motions, and not enjoying your calling.

    I can’t wait to see where God is leading you and what he is preparing you for. It’s exciting when you know he is preparing you for something, you just don’t know what. 😉

  3. Brother Lawrence’s book is a joy.

    Brent, thanks for this. I have had very similar feelings. Tonight my wife, while trying to read scripture, said; “I just don’t feel like I’m filled with the spirit right now”. I asked her why she thought she should feel this way, but more importantly, what does it mean to be ‘filled with the spirit’? Are we using someone else’s criteria, based upon a lifetime of popular impressions of what a ‘godly’ person should be doing, or what she or he should look like?

    There is so much unnecessary clutter in our lives, much of it produced by good intentioned friends who are always suggesting ways to get ‘closer’ to God or what works best for them during those ‘dry’ times. I think the best thing to do is just relax, let life take us where it will. As long as we are open to God’s presence and influence then what’s to worry about?

    When we stop having questions then we stop growing. It is more interesting, more exciting, to have questions than it is to have all the answers.

  4. Indian Lake Papa – I have heard of this book a couple of times now and I think that is enough hint for me to go pick it up. I am sure I will truly enjoy it. You are correct that family can often get left behind in our lives. I am so grateful for the wife and kids I have and for the relationship we have with each other. There is no way my “adventures” and tasks will ever get in the way of that.

    Brandy – Thanks for the encouragement and I understand the challenge of everyday seeing the beauty in all of it and never letting it get normal. Hope you feel better soon.

    Christian – “Unnecessary Clutter” Amen!! It is one of the biggest issues I have always dealt with, cause I am a bit ADD in not wanting to stop thinking or moving. I end up getting filled with a bunch of stuff that was never important in the first place. We’ve had discussions with buddy before about ministry and I know you understand how now-a-days, everyone has the perfect model or plan or style that will make everything work great. I love learning about these things, but they are often noise that take hold. I can’t have that. I have a ton to learn, but I need to constantly evaluate my foundation first, or it’s easy to sway left to right(no political pun intended). I truly just want to be faithful to listening and learning. I love that about you. You’ve always been a influence to me in that.

  5. B, just something the Lord put on my heart while reading this…we are so filled with peoples opinions, from the time we’re babies. Our parents, our siblings, classmates, circumstances, work, family, spouse, strangers, best friends, kids, pastors…the list is endless really. I believed from early childhood on what everyone told me. Good mostly, but some bad. Some that could have been good, if pride hadn’t gotten in the way. What I have learned is getting into sinc, could mean getting out of sinc for a bit. I know you understand that sentence.

    You said “We work to control our lives.” Really? I don’t. I work to be as completely out of control as possible. I don’t want to control anything. If He knows our purpose and perfect plan before we are even concieved, we should strive to be as out of control as possible…there was no rudder on Noah’s ark….

    “We try really hard to keep it on pace and focused. In the midst of all this, I have tried my best to listen and be available for whatever God is leading me to be or do.”

    That was the other thing that stood out. In the midst of it? That would be crazy making to me. I think about Moses, you and him are leaders. Before he led, he had some serious one on one time with God. Glowing even! It’s learning to love God more than Tam, and your kids. Putting Him first before all else…I know, just more people experience stuff…but truly, you have so many open doors, I would be praying for closed ones , your options will seriously narrow. God has big things for you, you haven’t even begun to tap into it! It’s an exciting place to be.

  6. Hey deb, thanks for your thoughts and encouragement.

    I am glad to see that you don’t have control issues, but most the rest of us do like some control 🙂 My main point is that it is easy to make our own plans and get lost in that instead of His plans.

    “in the midst”, just means that on my journey I have always tried first and foremost to seek Him. I really believe I am close to Him right now and He is placing in me desires that don’t have a direction yet, cause only He knows where they need to land. that is cool and exciting.

    I think your wisdom on praying for closed doors is a good one. We often pray for opened ones and then question them when they appear. I would rather have less choices and more closed doors. It truly would be easier to understand His plan. I like that,

    Hope your feeling better!

  7. Hmmm…didn’t mean to sound pompous if that’s the way it came across…just meant that I have learned that let go and let God thing. I’m excited too in learning for my own ministry the balance of when to move when not to move. That’s been huge for me, as you know…it’s always been full force leaving Him in the dust, or Him having a rope around my leg yanking me forward while I’m saying…”are you sure?”…anyway, glad there was one thing that could help.

  8. No, you didn’t sound pompous, I just know that I am one that likes control 🙂 I do love what God can do when we let loose though. I’ve experienced it in many parts of my life and I want to experience it in every part consistently.

    The balance is something that is so important. I think that God wants us to move, otherwise we are just puppets. I am definitely with you on this. I like the picture you painted. Ron spoke of Moses this weekend and the discussion that he and God had around the burning bush. Moses definitely did not see himself as someone who was capable or even available, but God knew who He was created to be. Once Moses surrendered, God proved himself and His power through Moses. I am glad you brought him up, cause I definitely want to experience what Moses experienced.

  9. 9 Elaine

    wow, funny how we can all relate to this in our own lives. The balance in my life is like a dryer that is shaking mad at being overloaded. I feel torn and needed in so many places. I try to focus on God, my walk with him…but then my husband doesn’t understand what I’m doing…He isn’t a believer. He gets me off track to go do something else…help me build this house..then I have to work on my many clients and meet their needs..and of couse the best part of the day is connecting with little Mallory. I have been teaching her about Jesus all by myself and I have to admit I’m doing a pretty good job. At the end of the day I just hope I didn’t upset anyone, did my best and did what God layed on my heart. The last few months I feel God wanting to make a move on me too but can’t understand it yet. You have my prayers Brent and family..something great will happen for all you. Let me know if you know any patience tips to pass on to me:)

  10. Praying for you B. My opinion is slightly different in that HE always knows what HE is doing, and we do tend to want to know before we see, and the most precious memories of me and HIM are in the wilderness. I find myself in this situation from time to time. I am learning to ask myself a couple questions to bring the proper perspective.
    What is it that I am feeling so torn about?
    What is it I want HIM to do in it?
    Do I think He will not come through?
    Is it a crisis of unbelief? (not un normal in this walk)
    Love you B, and God is already doing a great work through you, and maybe you should give yourself a break. New things, new start, and no condemnation, the only one who wants you discouraged in ministry is the enemy. Try to focus on the reason you started in ministry. Those things are still there, the rest you can throw away…Praying for you and your family, and against the enemy who accuses and discourages, asking for God to give you a touch today that is so HIM, and HE will be your encouragement today.

  11. The balance in my life is like a dryer that is shaking mad at being overloaded.

    What a great analogy. Boy, can I relate to that right now.

  12. I wonder sometimes if God doesn’t take us through ahh… doors, trials, storms, chaos, choices, indecision, etc., “just” to have a meaningful, focused, uninterrupted conversation with us. … And the point isn’t to “get through the trial” or “choose the right door” but to simply, really spend time with Him. I wonder if its like talking to my children when they were discussing life-after high school. Many, if not all of their choices were perfectly fine with me. So when I face multiple, seemingly equivalent doors and I don’t know which one (!!) God wants me to choose, I sometimes stop and wonder if He just doesn’t want to chat and He’s simply inviting me to choose the door that would please/bless me. Just something to think about…

  13. 13 lazrus2

    Well, I just hit the wrong button and 3 paragraphs I was working on writing were ‘lost in space’ ={!

    Obviously it wasn’t what I was supposed to say (or the ‘prince of the air’ is running his usual interference), so ‘guess I need to break to pray about it more, and come back to rewrite it or start on something totally different.
    If I don’t make it back, then assume it’s because I’m not supposed to say anything at all, and be glad I ‘listened’ =}.

    D-

  14. 14 Elaine

    I meant to say the balance of a washing machine not dryer in that last comment. I was thinking of a hymn we used to sing at my old church the chorus goes like this…”In love the Father ever veils the future, hides from us tomorrow’s care: For well he knows todays own burdens are enough for you and me to bear” I love that he protects the unknown from us out of LOVE.

  15. You wrote dryer but I read washing machine. Still an excellent analogy.

    I really, really like what Ric just said. Why would God be so much more ‘narrow’ than we would be with our own children? It is something that I am just now learning, as my children are transitioning into adult hood. So many of the choices that they make, that I don’t agree with, have more to do with my protecting my own ego than anything else. God has no ego.

  16. Elaine – You are amazing to lead the life you do in the midst of people that may not support or understand what you do. I am sure that your relationship with God is real and honest. I love that. You said that you hope at the and of the day, that you’ve done what God has laid on your heart. I echo that big time. Like Deb was talking to, I don’t ever want to miss out on something He wants of me. Also, what song is that? the lyrics are beautiful.

    Ric – Wonderful insight! I think that I could get so fixated on the hope that something will happen or change and I can lose site of God and His desire to be with me. “to simply, really spend time with Him” Amen to this!

    lazrus2 – I hope you’ll be able to get back on this, i’d love to hear your thoughts.

  17. Hey Christian, I was commenting at the same time you were. I echo you on Ric’s comments.

    In the same thought process, God knows who we are. He created us unique, special. I want Him to open doors and close doors. But most importantly, I need to know who I am and I can only do that in getting to know who He is and who He has created me to be. This only happens when I spend time with Him. Seems to me all the doors and paths will be a lot clearer once His ideas of who I am are revealed through Him.

  18. 18 lazrus2

    Okay, I’m trying again, and starting out with a little different emphasis than yesterday (the ‘wiped out’ comment).
    There were several statements you made I wanted to note :

    “Something that is a natural outpouring of my life, should not also be something I am required or committed to doing.”

    I understand your dilemma here– not wanting to ‘fake it’ for the sake of a ‘job’, but I do see it a bit differently.
    I think the whole concept of ‘stewardship’ (i.e. Mt. 25:14-30) is making the commitment to use what’s been entrusted to us, whether we’re that thrilled about doing it or not .
    For example, my main ‘passion’ is adult worship ministry, but as God would have it, I presently have equal or more opportunities leading kids and elderly people. There are times that I don’t ‘enjoy’ those commitments as much as others, but since it seems they aren’t the more popular ‘ministries’, they would ‘fall by the way side’ if I didn’t stay committed to them. So, though I’m not that enamored with singing children’s songs or the old hymns, I view it as ‘required’ because I’m giving my time and gifts to help others develop and fulfill their passion to worship as they prefer. And, as a result, I’m blessed by seeing them blessed.

    That concept sort of leads into your next statement that concludes with the need for surrender (laying aside my ‘highest desires’ for the sake of others) :

    “I think (like ministry) being close to God can either be an amazing experience, or a forced and fake one. I guess it depends on my surrender to Him.”

    Jesus gave us the perfect example of laying aside the glory of heaven to come provide the only way for us to join Him there forever. He calls us to ‘lay down our lives for our brothers’ too (Jn. 15:13). I think that’s what ‘servant leadership’ is all about – using our gifts to inspire and facilitate others maximizing theirs.

    The last quote was one I was more ‘into’ on the ‘lost comment from yesterday. Since Moses had already been referred to in other responses by Deb and you above, I thought this statement was one he could have made too:

    “I don’t do patience very well. I am a “do it now and get it done” kind of person. It’s cost me a lot of “experience” opportunities with people and situations.”

    Moses definitely started out there, and as a result, spent 40 years in the wilderness afterwards leading sheep, but God knew that was his best ‘training ground’ for patience
    (and humility too). There’s a whole lot more about Moses you might find applicable too (i.e. ‘control’ issues?), but I’ll leave that to you to investigate (sort of like re: Gideon six years ago now =)? If you want to ‘report back’, I would be interested in reading what you discover.

    D-

  19. Hey D, thanks for the response. I have really enjoyed studying Moses life and will continue to do this. Pastor Ron is really hitting on Moses the next couple of weeks as well, so it will be fun to get some fresh perspective there. aybe some things we can discuss here.

    “I think that’s what ’servant leadership’ is all about – using our gifts to inspire and facilitate others maximizing theirs.”

    I agree. And it works well into your first comments regarding stewardship. I do have a thought though on one aspect.

    As we step into what God has placed before us, I believe whole heartedly whether we like it or not, that we should be stewards of it and seek to please Him in giving it our all. I don’t think however that committing to something because it may “‘fall by the way side” is a correct view. It is kind of going against the “facilitating others”. I do see how you have said that you would use this time to give “(your) time and gifts to help others develop and fulfill their passion to worship as they prefer.” I agree with this. If that is the intent than I think it is well focused.

    I don’t want to do something solely for the sake of finishing a task. There are so many things that could fall into that category. Then we just get busy doing things and not spending time with Him. Kind of what Ric was talking about. I do want to approach things with a humble heart, as you’ve said, “whether I enjoy them or not”. It truly can be an attitude thing. I need to make sure that my attitude is not self centered at all times.

    By the way, the kids ministry you are talking about is definitely looked at as important by the staff. I have done my best in keeping my hands out of it’s leadership, but maybe some day I’ll be able to offer up my help…or asked to…

  20. 20 lazrus2

    “I don’t think however that committing to something because it may “‘fall by the way side” is a correct view. It is kind of going against the “facilitating others”. ”

    Regarding this statement, I don’t at all mean that I’m somehow indispensible in keeping a ministry going. I would be glad to assist others in taking on some of those responsibilities, and have tried, but the people aren’t there to commit to it. The alternative is leaving the kids (I’m referring mostly to the toddler worship, not Kids’ Church) without anyone besides their teachers (who mostly feel inadequate in that area) to guide them in worship. It’s the same situation with the retirement homes and gospel mission. I think providing worship (through music) is important enough for me to continue there in, and as a result, I find it rewarding. I know that I probably have more time available than most others to be involved in multiple ministries, but sometimes I do have to ‘let it fall to the way side’ if other responsibilities pre-empt what I’m already involved in.

    That was the case in my giving up AM worship when my folks moved in with us and had no other ‘on call’ help besides me. Even though very few ever attended, I believed it was offering a needed opportunity, and would have continued in hopes that some would eventually see the benefit of it.
    That ‘benefit’ doubled for me as both ministry and ‘spending time with Him,” as you stated also.
    That (time with Him) is absolutely the HIGHEST priority in my life whether or not it also allows others to share in that time with me.

    Everything flows out of that, and I think it’s there we wrestle with the ‘holy tension’ of ‘being real’ or not when we go from there to minister. That’s why it’s also so important to ‘find that place’ in His presence alongside those we minister ‘with’, not just ‘to’. It unifies and creates a sense of comradery and accountability that the Spirit of the Lord can then move more powerfully through.

    ‘Sorry for the long elaboration, but I did feel some added clarification was needed.
    Thanks for your patience to ‘listen’,
    D-

  21. Hey D, thanks for the follow up. I am with you here. I think you cleared it up nicely.

    I also agree that in the midst of serving (whether I like the task or not) is when I am in His service and I am close to Him and it is the right place to be.

  22. Brent,

    Love the blog! I am linking to it at firstnetchurch.com, in hopes our members and visitors will find your thoughts as engaging as I have.

    Blessings,
    Gene Strother
    WebPastor
    firstnetchurch.com

  23. Gene, sorry I missed you down here. Thanks for the kind words. I’d be honored to the link.

    Brent



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