Saturday, October 17, 2009

Holding Patterns

Every once and a while, I hate writing. This morning is one of those times. I’m sitting here at Starbucks, staring at the Via Ready Brew display in front of me, and thinking about how I have nothing interesting to share. I’m frustrated, tired and a little bored with myself. Being an out-of-work pastor is no different than anyone else who is out of work. Mondays seem to make your unemployment even more vivid. The wound is fresh. As the week moves on, you begin to accept your current situation, but it’s still hard. You find ways to cover and care for your wound. You medicate it, bandage it, protect it, and it begins to feel better, but there is still an ache.

I guess it might be a little easier for me, because I’m out of work by choice, rather than the economy, bad performance, etc. To make a long story short, I resigned from my last position as an associate pastor/children’s pastor because it just wasn’t a good fit anymore. God began to make it clear that he didn’t want me at this particular church anymore, and as a very dear friend and mentor put it: “Jake, it looks like God has closed the door, and you’re trying to force it back open.” And I see now how very true that was. I realize now that I got to the point where I came to work with crow bar and hammer in hand. And as hard as I tried, as much muscle as I put into it, the door was not only shut, but sealed. I finally had to realize that I was going to have to find another exit point. Or maybe it was an entry point. But much of this is clear only in retrospect.

God’s ways are not our ways, and that is a very difficult thing for a person like me to accept. I like being in control. I like knowing what’s going on all the time, and what the next steps are to get to where I need to go. Now that God has placed me into a time of uncertainty, as temporary as it might be, I’m having trouble accepting it. And I have to admit, I’m a little angry with God. After all, I had a successful ministry. People liked me and I liked being liked. I liked the pats on the back and the recognition I received. I was good at what I did. Or at least I think I was. But is that such a bad thing? Is it wrong to enjoy the occasional stroking of our egos? Aren’t we taught to be the best we can be at each and everything we do? Well, sorry. I don’t have an answer for you. In fact, if you have some insight on this, please feel free to let me know.

But there is one thing that I am very certain of. I am exactly where God wants me to be right now. I’m a 100% sure that he wanted me to leave my last church. I am 100% sure that he wanted me to remain out of paid ministry for a while; at least for the summer. I spent an incredible amount of quality time with my two boys, and was blessed beyond words. It was part of His plan, and I’m very thankful for that. So I accepted it and assured myself that by the time school started, God would reveal the door that would not only open with ease, but would remain open for at least the indefinite future. Well, at this point, all I see is walls. No doors. No windows. Although people come in and out, I don’t know from where they come from. They have doors to come in to my life, but it’s almost as if they are only visible from their side of reality. Kind of like Monster’s Inc., huh?

I know that God has a plan for me and my ministry. I love God’s words of comfort to us in Isaiah: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT) Those words really speak to me today, and I know with all confidence that God already has everything laid out. I know this because His Spirit has assured me of that. For whatever reason, He’s just not letting me in on the details yet, and I’m OK with that. I'm in a holding pattern and don't have clearance to land yet. Wandering. Wilderness. Uncertainty.

But even in the occasional dark times of discouragement, I feel Him gently whispering and reminding me that He’s there and has it all under control. Like any earthly Father, I believe that God only wants the best for us, and I feel confident that that is what lies ahead for me. My last ministry position may have been good, but it wasn’t what was best for me. But as my door closed, it became someone else's to walk through. It was someone else’s “better”. And you know what? My next ministry position may not be the “best”, and if it’s not, God will shut another door. I pray that if He does, I won’t pull out my crow bar and hammer again.


Anonymous said...

Jake, as a pilot and as a Christian, I know a thing or two about holding patterns. Sometimes I feel like I will never get clearance to land. I feel your frustration and I am glad that you still have your faith. I struggle with that whole being in control thing and "...trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will." I sometime feel like a windsock blowing which ever way the wind blows too. I think we will be having more conversations in the future. Until then, remember a holding pattern is only temporary and God is in the tower, he will talk you down. P.S. Don't be a stranger to Gateway. God bless. John Nolan

Jake Kampe said...

Thanks, John. I appreciate you. And you may see me around Gateway more often. Robert has been putting more pressure on me to get me over there and work with him. You never know.