January 19, 2013

Our life has drastically changed within the last couple of months. Waylon left the pastorate, we moved in with my parents, we are both unemployed, and we are waiting to move to Wisconsin in August.

We left our church for many reasons and now that we do not have the pressures of that kind of work, Waylon and I are left with our changed selves. When we met I was a controlling, social butterfly, and he was a shy, sometimes anxious introvert.

Now I have become an anxious recluse, and Waylon has become a social butterfly. While he is processing the impact of the last three years on his life by going out and spending time with close friends, my initial response is to curl up on my bed, put the covers over my head, and wish the days away. Thankfully, our son, my family, and my friends, are pulling me out of that dark place, and it has been a healthy month of getting out and talking about our experience.

In high school one of my best friends always talked about helping the widows and the orphans. She, would say, the Gospel is helping those who are in need. As I spent time in Southern Illinois, working within the local church, I realized that the reason the Gospel is so powerful, is because it’s practical. The Gospel is meant to be lived out, day in, day out. The Gospel is supposed to be good news for those who are oppressed and in need of a free life.

In Southern Illinois, I spent a year attending Seminary. As I sat in class, as we are talking obscure theology and philosophy this kind of practical Gospel hit me across the face. The Gospel that is more concerned with being kind, being gracious, being loving, being a respite, than being right.

As I continued to read and study scripture I stumbled into Matthew 25. This powerful scene where the final days have come to pass and many people come to Jesus, and Jesus tells them, “For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'”

The righteous men and women respond, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’”

And the Jesus speaks the Gospel. He says that when you did any of these acts for the least of your brothers and sisters you did them for me.

In other words, when you aid the man or woman who is need you are helping Jesus.

As I have been reflecting on this kind of Gospel, I have come to face the realization that I do not want to do ministry vocationally. The last three years have changed me so drastically that I feel that I would benefit from working within the “world” by pursuing a career change.

Ten years after I publicly declared my intention for vocational ministry I am making a public declaration that maybe I see the Gospel in a different way. Maybe my need to work in ministry vocationally has become a selfish need. While these decisions, conversations, and meditations have been really difficult, I have come out on the other side feeling that my call has shifted, and changed to meet practical needs within the community.

I can’t remember who said this, so forgive me if I misquote, but I heard in Seminary that if we do not feed the body, than we cannot feed the soul. I have come to the realization that we must care for the whole person before we get too spiritual…

As Waylon, Arlo, and I journey down a new road, full of new adventures, I am sure that we will get to see and partake in God’s eternal love in new and refreshing ways.


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