I recently began reading the book that I've heard so much about, Wild at Heart by John Eldridge. I haven't gotten too deep into the pages yet, so I can't comment a whole lot, nor should I because I haven't fully explored it. I'm struggling with some, well most actually, of his ideas of what a man truly desires. The things that he says men have been fashioned to go after but don't actually desire are the very things that I want right now. Admittedly, I'm at a very different stage of life than him right now, so maybe those things will change. But I felt like I'm somehow not a man if I don't fit into his categorical slots of masculinity. Just a thought on that.
As I now officially prepare myself to do what I believe God is directing me towards (hopefully that's the case anyway), I sit in tremendous fear of the unknown. The strange thing is that it's almost exciting, but far from crippling (which I have to be honest, is very different from what fear has done to me in the past). Now I know, those who have read Wild at Heart will tell me that that's one of the deep longings of the masculine soul and thus my previous statement is discredited, but alas that's not what I was talking about.
I have accepted a position as a pastor in Saskatchewan of all places. What am I thinking? Well, to be honest, all I'm thinking is that I want to serve God and follow where he directs me, and I believe this is the place at this stage of life. There are so many unknowns and that drives me nuts, I always have to know what's going to happen and who will be involved, basically it's my sinful nature and my desire for control. But like many people, I have experienced the downfalls of what happens when I try to control everything around me. It's frustrating because you realize you can't, and it hurts because you make massive mistakes and sometimes hurt others along the way. That's something you can't take back, but it IS something that you can be forgiven for. Praise God for that.
What do I judge as success? Why does it matter what I think? It doesn't. The only thing I should be concerned about is am I right with God and am I following him. Those should be my main concerns. All too often they slide to 2nd or 3rd or 100th on my list of "things that I am concerned about". It's a good thing that God reminds us who's got it together and who doesn't, even though it's not the easiest pill to swallow. It's in our inmost nature to want to succeed, to do well and have people like us, that's the way I tend to see it anyway. But what does it mean to succeed? A spouse? kids? a nice house? car? job? money? stuff? lots of friends? Maybe there's nothing wrong with those things, but what happens when they become our driving force? What should my ultimate goal be? Trust and obey the Father. Pleasing God, for the soul purpose of being a Christ follower, not doing Christianity, because he wants us to. Oh so simple to write, oh so hard to live.
The great part of it is the whole grace thing. I suck, everyone knows it, but God makes me something that I could never have been, he changes me, he saves me, and gives me his spirit. It doesn't make sense when you've never tasted it, but man there's nothing better when you do.
My heart has been broken, on so many different levels, due to my own sin and to other things that resulted from that. But healing has begun, and it continues. And I am certainly not able to claim that it's cause I've done anything to make it happen. God saw the need to break me to the point that he needed to so that I would actually listen, by his grace he is making me into something I could never become on my own.
It's tough to look back and see how God's timing is best, because sometimes it means we experience difficulty in the meantime. There's so much to learn from these times, unfortunately it takes a lot more than it really should for me to realize God's sovereignty. But in the end, I will be better for it, I do know that.
A good friend/mentor said to me very recently that it's kind of like gardening. When the spring comes, the gardener has to put a lot of work into the garden, turning over the soil after the harsh winter and making it rich and ready for recieving plants and seeds. I think you can catch the comparison, God's the gardener, I'm the garden. Jesus said something pretty close to that too. The soil must get tired of being turned over so much, but the gardener is relentless in what he does because he knows what it takes to make the end product healthy and beautiful.
But when the heat of the summer sun comes and the rain refreshes the ground, the garden reaches full bloom and it's far more beautiful and vibrant than a dead patch of ground. The shovel digs deep, but the result will be beautiful.