a renewed sense of balance...

For the first time since we returned from sabbatical in Montreal last year at about this time, I sense my life and ministry taking on a measure of balance. Not that there aren't hard challenges ahead, nor am I clear about each step of this emerging journey. But increasingly I sense the peace in God's grace in my soul - and this has rarely been the case for the past 15 months. Further, as has been true so often, when I listen long enough and with intentional trust, a word from Scripture gives my experience shape and form. 

In the past I have often taken solace in either Psalm 37 - Do not fret... be still and wait upon the Lord - or Matthew 11:28-30 (especially Peterson's restatement in The Message) - Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Another text that has given me guidance comes from Isaiah 55: Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

These days I find myself drawn to the nearly Jungian words of Jesus as recorded in the final
chapter of St. John's gospel: Do you love me? I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (John 21: 18)

For a time it seems that we  have been called not to do the work of church renewal, but rather to share a non-anxious, tender presence within our faith community. We must embrace one of the most trying transitions in our 250 year history. As we move through this wilderness, our call is to remind and reassure the faithful that the desert is never our final destination. We may have to wander for a season and wrestle with our own demons.  As Elie Wiesel taught in his reflection on Moses, we may need to lie down in our own graves over and over until the past is dead and we are empty enough to receive God's new life. But it will come in God's time. And on that day, whenever it may arrive, Dianne and I will shift gears and take on a very new way of being faithful. 

There has been a ton of tears and too much fear in my heart of late. So finally to have a  measure of clarity brings to mind one of my favorite lesser Springsteen tunes:  "Better Days." I know by faith that Good Friday is not the end of the story, but sometimes Easter feels like a long time coming, yes?


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