Earlier last week, I received a call from a younger friend who's also a troubled left-leaning pastor near the Big Apple.
I thought he wanted to joust with me about NYC's nutty social engineering mayor whose megalomanical control needs have moved from seat belts and helmets to telling us how large is too large when it comes to soft drinks.
Anyway, he asked, "Does it ever end?"
He was referring to the disappointments, defeats, disillusionments, tests, trials, temptations, and tribulations of living in an increasingly mean, maddening, and miserable world, country, and...
I answered, "No."
Groote aka Kempis wrote a lot about that way back in the late 14th century (Imitation of Christ): "So long as we live in the world, we cannot be without tribulation and temptation."
"Nevertheless," he noted in encouraging radical dependence upon God (cf. Matthew 5:3), "temptations are often very profitable to a man, though they be troublesome and grievous; for in them a man is humbled, and purified, and instructed."
Not even monks can avoid 'em: "There is no order so holy, nor place so secret, where there be not temptations, or adversities."
Getting back to my friend's interrogative and my declarative, "When one temptation or tribulation goeth away, another cometh; and we shall ever have something to suffer, because we have lost the blessing of our first happiness."
Yep, it started in the garden; as we've repeated that original sin of rebelling against what Father knows is/was/remains best for us.
Pointing to the only way to overcome all of that bad stuff to which no one is immune, he counseled, "The beginning of all evil temptations is inconstancy of mind, and small confidence in God."
Throwing the haymaker, he concluded, "We ought not therefore to despair when we are tempted, but so much the more fervently to implore God, that He will vouchsafe to help us in every tribulation...Humble we therefore our souls under the hand of God in all temptation and tribulation, for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit."
Simply, Jesus saves...if we let Him.
Reminding me of reports that I've made to him in recent years that only about 10% of my graduating class in seminary remains in pastoral ministry, he asked how I've survived if it never ends.
I've written some things about surviving it in the past; but, like you, he hasn't read 'em.
But having survived it for around four decades or so, I guess I am something of, uh, an expert on surviving it.
Here's what I've learned about surviving it.
First, intimacy with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the solid rock foundation that overcomes all of the bad stuff in life. Jesus punctuated His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) with that good news; echoing the Psalmist: "God inhabits the praises of His people." In other words, if we hang out with Him, we won't get hung up by/on it.
Second, I paid close attention to the course on original sin; and learned to expect next to nothing from most people because most people aren't really into Him as evidenced by their selfishness, control needs, greed, inability to serve unless leading, irascibility, irregularity, and irreconcilability, NYC-mayor-like-megalomania, and on and on and on that leave little room for Christlike traits like selflessness, unconditional favor, mercy, reconcilable intentions, redemptive passions, forgiveness, and other, again, Christlike traits.
Third, while expecting next to nothing from most people who don't even try to overcome the original sin in their DNA, I expect everything from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as promised throughout Holy Scripture and summarized by Psalm 62.
Finally, I know my speck-inspecting is limited by my log-wearing. I must always be ready and even eager to confess my sins against Him and His, repent from my sins against Him and His, ask for forgiveness from Him and His, and pray and try to be/do better as I receive forgiveness from Him and His.
Simply, Jesus saves...if we let Him.
Survival depends upon God alone.
Yeah, there are some folks who allow Him to use them in saving missions.
They get it/Him.
Praise the Lord for Him/them!
They are the few who can say with the apostle, "It is no longer I who live but is Jesus who lives in and through me."
So, again, survival depends upon God alone.
In short, I have survived it because of increasing intimacy with Him as F/S/HS, expecting nothing from most people, expecting everything from Him, and recognizing my own sins against Him and His that increase my increasing intimacy with Him as F/S/HS to survive the world, country, and...
Blessings and Love!
God gave me his grace in the midst of a horrible church. I didn't want to go into the ministry at all because of an intense shyness and because I didn't really like the church. It had failed me and my family in so many ways. But if you love God and know he loves you, you have to do what he says, or never be happy. In answer to all my questions about this calling and about where to do ministry for him, he told me that I had to be faithful to him where he had been faithful to me and to love the church where he had found me even when/though it was horrible. I can only do this with an clear awareness of my own and others sins (our common sin), and through him alone.
I firgured this out, or let him do this figuring for me, when I was about eighteen years old.
Good words Pastor Kopp
Could it be that there are so few of your classmates left in ministry because the rest have retired?
So well said, brother!
Truly this is the key to not just surviving...but overcoming! Intimacy with Him produces reflections of Him in us!
For Tim, I think the attrition rate in "the ministry" is awful, and then I wonder what it is for the Christly "laity". The church and "the ministry" are not for the faint hearted.
Where the heck did he get so inspired by these symbols?
What kind of symbolism would we use if written today?
What a poet: love the wheels within the wheels and where do folks get this UFO stuff from this? Why the lack of spiritual imagination?
This is so different: interesting how OT goes the full gambit of presentations of faith and God -- how does this compare with Torah, histories, even the prophets?
Post a Comment