Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
Has anyone else experienced periods of time where it seems like God sidelined you for a while to work on some things in your own life. And then when you felt called to get back in the game, you felt a sense of inadequacy or it seemed that there were other barriers (real or imagined) that prevented you from getting off the bench?
Yes, I had been going well, then moved overseas, got married, returned (after going through hard times), got involved in a lukewarm church where I battled uphill to serve until moving to a new one last year. Now I'm having trouble going beyond leading Bible studies and worship as a choir member.
At that lukewarm church, a choir member slandered my wife repeatedly because she was from Europe, not from the area, and because she appeared to be after me! I did not see this coming and my wife did, causing further conflict. When we tried to approach that woman, she would not talk to my wife. She married a finance "minister" who was a friend of the pastor, and when she was put up for a position in the church (paid) to help visit the sick, I protested gently due to that person not being qualified by her gossip, slander, and other non-qualifiers. We met with the pastor who barely heard my wife's side and even jumped up in an angry voice threatening to cast her out of the church with finger wagging in her face. This all because my wife was unable to confront the person first and came to the pastor now ("not following Bible's example"). My wife then said that next time she would "grab her by the neck" and make certain the other person discussed the issue. This is a tranlation of a Dutch saying much like our "grabbing the bull by the horns" but he did not ask that, but immediately lashed out in anger and judgement. This issue was therefore not resolved, and the woman did get the postition. Then we heard from a deacon's wife (a friend) that the pastor had a secret deacon meeting to warn about my wife the troublemaker who was "an instrument of satan"... We were unable to pursue ministry there, and left less than a year later. We love and forgive them, but are only now able to pursue ministry and be able to trust others in leadership again. The signs were there - philosophy with little Scripture in the sermons, the aloofness except with the inner circle as the pastor called his friends, and such. Nevertheless, it did affect us.
I know God wants to use me again for individuals, but am having difficulty getting going again, and do sometimes wonder about the "barriers" that seem to be there. Isaiah 30:21 is helping.
I often think of my Christian life in terms of the vine/branch metaphor Christ used. Living here in "wine country" in Northern California, I see the vines almost every day driving to/from work. Jesus spoke of God as the "husbandman/vinedresser," Himself as the Vine/Root, and of us (individually/collectively) as the branches. In His parable, He emphasized roles and made sure we understood which WE are - Root or branch. He also spoke of God as "pruning" us - whether of dead branches not bearing fruit or fruit-bearing to increase the yield.
Vines have seasons, growing, fruit bearing, harvest, dormant, etc. I have been going through a bit of a dry spell, a time when I am struggling to understand what I am to be about, and of uncomfortableness with some of the practices at my current church. It seems to be doing EVERYTHING but focusing on the Word and discipleship. I have been driven with a hunger to study the Word, writings of people of faith, and my own noodlings.
But, in spite of all that I am currently feeling, sensing, struggling with, "anxious" over, I KNOW that my God IS able. I shall come through this period into a new time of fruitfulness and service. I praise God for HIS faithfulness and the assurance His love, His Christ, His Holy Spirit bring.
I pastored a church that had a history of inviting the Mormon bishop to teach once a year and invited by the same people for other things. The church grew rapidly until the power brokers decided they were losing control. I learned to love and forgive unlike before. I have also learned to let go of things I see as bad and realize God is still in control. Walking with God is not what about what I think or want but about following God each step of the way even when it does not always make sense.