I wrote just about a year ago of some of my struggles in finding a mentor, someone to build into me as I was trying to build into others, and the fact that this thread, this lack wove its way all the way back in my life... and seemed like it would continue to do so moving forward, for the foreseeable future. I've never felt thwarted by God in any other area, but in this one...
Recently, I met with an older pastor named Morris. He's stepped away from full-time pastoring to focus more on spiritual direction, working mainly with pastors in the CMA denomination, though he makes time for a few non-denominational strays like me.
We met, had a good conversation that I really enjoyed and agreed to meet again.
At our second meeting he listened as I described where I'm at; my fear that I'm going to hit a wall in 8-9 months, my frustration that I've reached a place in life (husbanding, fathering, pastoring) where I simply have no idea what I'm doing, the busyness, tiredness, distractedness... He displayed good empathy, asked appropriate questions and finally said this: "Bob, you know what you need? You need a coach and spiritual director."
He then began to talk about how he'd be happy to help me find such a person, he had some contacts, etc.
My heart was in my throat and all I could think was "Well, of course. What else could he have said? That's the plot, after all."
But as he talked, I began to sense that he was dancing around an invitation, but seemed reluctant to give it.
So I told him a story.
A few years ago I found myself in a tough ministry situation. Basically, I was brought in to be the youth and worship pastor of a small church, I think as a last-ditch effort kind of thing. They'd been planted seven years previous and had never really taken off, and had now identified the areas of youth and music as two that really needed something. I think they hoped that I could bring that something and maybe help get them over the roadblock they were sitting at.
But from the beginning, there was a pretty big disconnect between myself and the other two pastoral staff. They wanted me to perform. I wanted them to help me, to build into me. I think we got to a place where they seemed willing to do that if I would start to perform. I felt like I could do what they wanted me to, if they would just get more personal in their involvement with me. It became kind of a catch-22.
One day, the lead guy and I sat down for lunch and during the course of that conversation he said to me, "Bob- you can have anything you want from me. You just have to ask."
To which I replied, "If you'd really been listening to my story over these past few months you'd know- that's the one thing I can't do."
One too many times asking and being told, either explicitly by words or implicitly by actions "no" had left me unable to ask again...
To his credit, Morris heard what I was saying by telling that story (he's pretty sharp :) and just came right out and asked: "Bob- would you like me to play that role in your life?"
We talked a bit more, agreed to try to meet once a month or every few weeks, etc.
And my attitude after that meeting?
"I'm hopefully optimistic... but I just don't trust it."
Not trusting it has meant not speaking about it, not thinking on it too much... basically, doing everything I can to remain un-invested so that when it inevitably fails to pan out, I won't be too disappointed. (Talk about a recipe for a self-fulfilling prophecy... sheesh.)
The reason I bring this up now?
A couple of weeks ago, our home group decided to read Brennan Manning's Ruthless Trust together. And Brian, one of our elders was to preach next Sunday on Peace, but health issues have intervened, so he's postponing for a couple of weeks, leaving me to preach on... Well, guess I'll preach on trust, I think to myself.
And I'm sitting here this morning, thinking about doing exactly that when the penny drops and I remember my words of less than a month ago. "I just don't trust it."
Let's just say it like it really is: "I just don't trust Him."
The Savior of my soul, the One who died so I could live, the God of the Universe who provides for me, loves me, forgives me... and the truth is, I don't trust Him.
And do I not trust Him because He's proven Himself to be untrustworthy?
No... I don't trust Him because He has not answered my prayer in MY time. In MY way.
Nearly 39 years old and sometimes I'm just hit by how childish and young I remain.
Can we trust God? Can we trust that he has our best interests at heart? Even in the midst of unanswered prayers or downright tragedy/suffering? Can we trust that God is not absent, unaware, uncaring? Maybe even that He knows what He's doing, even if we don't.
I'm sure trying.