Sunday Prayer

 

Shishkin, Ivan Ivanovich, 1832-1898. Rain in an Oak Forest, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Shishkin, Ivan Ivanovich, 1832-1898. Rain in an Oak Forest, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

God of faithful surprises,
throughout the ages
you have made known your love and power
in unexpected ways and places.
May we daily perceive
the joy and wonder of your abiding presence
and offer our lives in gratitude
for our redemption. Amen.

Prayer is from the Revised Common Lectionary provided by the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

The Fear

Fortt, Annette Gandy. Jacob and the Angel, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Fortt, Annette Gandy. Jacob and the Angel, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

This week begins my first steps into whatever it is next for me. Last Friday, for those of you following along, I turned in my two week notice at my current job. I had grown weary of working at something that was definitely not my passion and was mentally draining. I needed a bit of a kickstart to refocus my passion and hopefully end up back on the path that I feel like I should be on. A path towards ministry of some kind.

Now it’s Tuesday, and the fear has started to set in.

I feel like this whole process so far has been like going skydiving. I had some immense excitement about the initial thought of it and with sharing the details with some of my friends. I felt a bit of that anxious excitement with the buildup to Friday like ascending on the plane must feel like. My nerves on Friday were haywire as I rustled up the courage to step into my boss’s office and deliver my resignation letter, almost like stepping into the window to jump.

Now that I’ve “jumped” I’ve had a sudden rush of fear come over me.

Fear mixed with a twinge of regret. What have I gotten myself into? What sane person would ever do this? I hope my parachute is okay? Do I even have a parachute? There’s a safety parachute, right? That plane ride sure was nice…

But, as with any skydive, once you commit it’s impossible to jump back into the plane. There’s no turning back and you might as well enjoy the ride and the view.

On Sunday afternoon I attended a meeting for my church where we voted in new elders and deacons. A few of the outgoing elders were given time to share about their experience. One after another they talked about stepping up and answering the call of God, even though at first they were resistant. Once they stepped out, they did not regret their choice. One of the new elders, a sweet older woman, talked about her calling as an elder and about the few times she’s served before. While I can’t recall the exact words she used, she spoke about how surrendering to God is one of the best ways to grow and learn how to live into what God has called us to.

I went up to her after and gave her a big hug and thanked her for her words.

Surrendering is never easy. Jumping out of a plane is crazy. But it’s only in those moments as you push through the fear, the anxiety, the doubts and questions when you learn what you can really tackle.

The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

Sunday Prayer

 

Weyden, Rogier van der, 1399 or 1400-1464. Mary's Tears, detail from Descent from the Cross, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Weyden, Rogier van der, 1399 or 1400-1464. Mary’s Tears, detail from Descent from the Cross, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

God of power and justice,
like Jeremiah you weep over those
who wander from you,
turn aside to other gods,
and enter into chaos and destruction.
By your tears and through your mercy,
teach us your ways
and write them on our hearts
so that we may follow faithfully
the path you show us. Amen.

Prayer is from the Revised Common Lectionary provided by the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

Getting Real

feces-realThe other day as I was driving to work, I was making my way through the”Must Listen” podcast playlist on my beloved Downcast app. I get like 20 minutes or so, depending on traffic, to choose my own vehicular audio enjoyment after dropping the kids off in the morning. Podcasts have become a “palette cleanser” of sorts after listening to kids music and your select Disney princess ballads. It gets me thinking and actually lets me wrestle with things that I’m interested in which, sadly, my current job does not let me do much on company time. Theology, ecclesiology, and biblical studies sadly have little interaction with home infusion, medical benefits and medical coding. But, at least in this point in my life, the latter has been paying the bills much better than the former.

The podcast that I was wrapping up was a recent episode of Rob Bell’s Robcast. It was Part 2 of his Wisdom series. The first two thirds were pretty good, but then with 10 minutes left in the podcast, he started dropping these bombs…

“When you choose to live from your true self, there may be costs…”

“For some the question, ‘What do you want?’ is a terrifying question. You know that you at some level are living distant from your heart when that question is hard to answer.”

“Sometimes we settle, sometimes we numb, sometimes we give up. If you have some sense of, ‘Well I guess this is just as good as it gets.’ probably something has died in your heart. If you have no fight left in you, it’s probably because something has gone wrong in your heart…In the wisdom tradition, you guard you heart because everything flows from your heart.”

“What is it that keeps your heart alive, what is it that when you do it, you feel like I can’t believe I get to live this life? What is it that keeps your heart alive?”

“You are far from your heat, you are far from life, and you need to get that back.”

Those of you familiar with my story will know I’ve wrestled a lot with what I feel like I’m called to do and where I find my employment. These nuggets from Rob Bell hit me like a ton of bricks as I’ve found myself in a job I’ve not found much joy in after recently being laid off from a job that was about as close as I’ve come to a dream job. Honestly, I have found myself thinking lately that maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. Maybe the whole pastor/minister thing isn’t for me and I need to learn to be happy with where I am at. Maybe, this is as good as it gets.

Those moments were not the brightest moments in my mind…but they happened.

But, before I could really think too much about what Rob said, the next podcast started. It was an episode from Zen Parenting Radio which has become a fast favorite in our family. Right at the beginning of the episode I was listening to, they reference the same podcast from Rob Bell and talk about how great it was.

Ok, God…I get it. I should be paying attention.

I spent most of the next day thinking and working over our budget, noodling with the idea of quitting my job to free up space in my life. I would throw open all the doors and windows, if you will, and let some light in. If it was feasible for our family, I figured now was a good time to open myself up to the possibilities that were around me. And, spending more time at home never hurt anyone. As I worked it through, some things would have to change, but it was well within the realm of possibility for me to do this. And definitely possible if I could shake up some kind of part-time or freelance jobs to fill in some gaps.

I felt myself getting more excited about this possibility and what it could open up.

I spent that evening detailing the plans to my wife, and while she was hesitant at first and a little bummed about a change in our plans, she ultimately agreed that my joy and embracing my calling was more important right now. We batted back and forth with some ideas about what our options were. I had concluded that I would like to be out of my job by the end of the month. Of course, sticking around at a paying job a little bit longer would bring in more money…I just felt so strongly that the end of October would be my chance. Anything beyond that just felt…wrong.

The next morning when I woke up I had an email waiting for me from one of my seminary professors asking if I could help out with some social media and email marketing stuff for him on a very part-time, temporary, but paid basis.

I’m not a big believer in signs (I hated the movie) and I definitely didn’t ask for one. But, at that moment I believe I felt a confirmation from God, deep within my soul.

This was the right thing to do.

So, here we are, two weeks out from the end of the month. When you read this, I more than likely have turned in my two-week notice to my very surprised boss. I have only worked at this place for a little over three months so, this isn’t what they planned either. I’ve had a few plans fall through and most of my ideas are, exactly that at this point, ideas.

Write more.

Blog more.

Help out more around the house.

Network.

Pray more.

Find a part-time job.

Hang out with friends and mentors.

Read more.

Volunteer more.

Write a book.

This week has been really hard as I tried to think through if I was going to go through with this at all. And, if you’re reading this blog post…

I have.

I will walk away from my job at the end of the month and, hopefully, into whatever is next.

Pray for me, this just got real.

Sunday Prayer

Biard, Auguste Francois, 1799-1882. Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Biard, Auguste Francois, 1799-1882. Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

Friends in Christ,
God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers
as dear to us as our own needs.
Loving our neighbors as ourselves,
we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions
on behalf of the church and the world.

Hear our prayers, God of power,
and through the ministry of your Son
free us from the grip of the tomb,
that we may desire you as the fullness of life
and proclaim your saving deeds to all the world. Amen.

Prayer is from the Revised Common Lectionary provided by the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

Sunday Prayer

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Local Woman in a Barley Field, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mmoorr/52722248/.

God Eternal,
you inspired Jeremiah to buy a piece of land
when no one could see a future in it.

Grant us such commitment to the future of your people,
that you will always have workers for your vineyard
and harvesters for your fields.

Amen.

Sunday Prayer

When joy is gone and hearts are sick, O God,
you give us Christ as our healing balm.He came in human flesh
that he might give himself as a ransom for our salvation
and anoint us with the Spirit of consolation and joy.

Hear the cry of your people,
that we may rejoice in the richness of your love
and be faithful stewards of your many gifts.

Amen.