A VERY personal response...


A very precious heart is stranded somewhere in the midwest, fresh out of theological training, awaiting his call from our Lord to a specific ministry. As the weeks and months have drawn by--without direction--as God sets things up for him, he struggles with his thoughts...like we all...

I visualize him in some log cabin (I literally think he told me this) on his knees before the Father, struggling to subdue his heart of passion desire to 'get into the harness' for the kingdom. I too have felt that--in a couple of different scenarios--and so I interacted with his letter below...and it became a VERY personal disclosure from me. But here it is...maybe someone can benefit...


Hey brother, I appreciate your writing back, I am sure you get a ton of messages a day! You probably don't even remember writing back!

actually, i do remember you and your name (that is highly unusual for me)...your story strikes too close to home...

Anyway, I am the guy who graduated from XXX Seminary. It has been sweet and sour up here. I am drenched in solitude which is drawing me exponentially closer to God than I had ever thought possible which in turn brings on onslaughts of temptations and worries that try to (and often succeed) in choking the joy of the Gospel out of my life. I guess I am really learning how the Lord desires us to live solely on his strength.

Take advantage of the sweetness of time with Him! If i had that situation, i would drench myself in the mystical Christian writers, spend long sessions in listing every tiny detail of my life that i am thankful for (in His presence of course!), drink deep in meditation and scripture memory...oh, friend--to have the time in Arabia that Paul had with Christ!--or the decades that Moses had with YAHWEH alone in the sheepfields, day after day pondering and questioning and subduing his heart!

to cuddle up in His warmth and be lost in His grace and to stand at the edge of that galaxy+ ocean of smiling and deep acceptance...to lay back in a field and stare at his message in the stars and ask Him about each one...to be overwhelmed by the how that strange thing called 'election' broke into MY life and gathered me into His arms--trembling, ignorant, unsure; but on a road to a certainty that defies everything the darkness can throw at us...that touch of his attention, those eyes so deep, that heart so steady and stable...

... there are times in my life when He makes me stop all my activity and makes me focus on a basic fact: His doesn't just want what i can do for Him in the lives of others--He wants ME...if no one else in the world existed, His grace and goodness and kind acts and openness to me would not change...to Him, I am an 'end-point' in a process of love!

"To fear God and ENJOY Him forever..."

Remember the marriage contract in the OT? The newly married husband was NOT allowed to go to war--but had to stay home and make his wife happy!

Deut. 24:5 If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.
Take advantage of your "honeymoon" period?

I grow impatient with the Lord at times yet there is no other option. He holds my heart so steadfast that I can go in no other direction. I am glad about that but it is very frustrating at times. I am guessing that perhaps Paul's time in Arabia was filled with this kind of pulverizing or tenderizing. I am finding that positive thinking is not enough, I have to be so convinced of his love for me everyday. This is the only true grounds for dealing with failed expectations.

I have waited and waited and hoped and hoped and been crushed before myself in these areas...i still struggle with it...and so my story follows:

i was saved in 1971, gave my life to the Lord in 1972, set out to be a Christian professor in a secular university (they exert SUCH influence) in my field of computer science...someone soon confronted my with the option of ministry--since i was going to be studying all the time ANYWAY, why not do it in an area i enjoyed more, like biblical and theological studies...

so i set out to do so..I was freshly married at the time, to a dear young Christian girl who wanted to serve the lord with me...as FLA bible college went by, and then Dallas Theo. Seminary, and then UD, our mutual inability to overcome our homelife legacies surfaced in our marriage...it was barely held together during the end of seminary, and i avoided the issues as long as i could...during this entire time i worked full-time, did school full-time and was a full-time father to my kids (but not a very good husband--my general lack of personal strength/skills/wisdom back then was a killer). My 'career' goals changed quickly from pastoral to academic; it seems clear to me that my interests and abilities were all in that type of arena.

So as i graduated from seminary, i was primed for service:

But no ministry opened up, and i needed a phd. anyway for academia...i wanted to teach a few years if possible and did so at Dallas Bib college, but was still dependent on my computer job for income...

marriage was failing, business was dying--as i plugged thru the first year of doc.studies, always knowing that God would not use me if i destroyed my family...

It was 1982 when i 'stopped' my education...i dropped out of school and tried to focus on making the job work (which would help things at home, i thought), and on making the marriage work--probably only because it was NEEDED for a qualification for ministry in my sub-culture, and not because it was precious and of worth in God's sight...

Well, i couldn't make it happen, and though my walk ever remained close, my commitment firm, my hope unduly bright, I failed...

I was divorced in 1989, and knew it was coming for 4 years...

the nights i asked 'why'! what was the training for? what was the MARRIAGE for?! why such torture and crushed expectations? (YOU still have hope; the divorce killed mine--at least the stereotypical one) Just to change MY thinking? could i ever believe that God would use a failed man to represent him at all, in even the slightest way? Even crumbs from the table?

Oh, I stand forgiven, and i cling to the greek perfect tense of 'paid in full', and i roll around in His acceptance, but i will always wrestle with the 'what i might have done for Him' if only i had been better or something...

and yet the faith in providence and the unexpected and the invisible always grows...

i dont understand, nor invest much time in TRYING to anymore...the servant is not supposed to over-analyze decades old mistakes, but rather get on to today's 'to do' list for the Master...

Now, to be quite frank, during that whole time i was learning that God obviously viewed 'success' and 'output' and 'fruit' differently than we humans...i often speculated that the seat 'next to him' that the mother of Jas/john asked for, would NOT go to someone famous (e.g. Paul, David), but perhaps to a single mom in outer Mongolia, whose life and words to her kid and village MOST ACCURATELY displayed His character and obedience to the Father...so 'output' in classical terms of vocational ministry, or class size, or "heads led to the Lord' or whatever was really not an idol...

but there was still the question--why all the training and thinking and apparent gifting? (in the sense of 1Cor. 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? )...i have always believed in His ability to turn cursing into blessing, and more appropriately, bring life from death...where might i fit?

during this time, of course, He was making PROFOUND changes in my theology--slow cooker style. I experienced so much of life, faced so many questions, dealt with so much ordinary 'spam'...my Lord grew larger, and more colorful, and with more blood in Him, more musically inclined; He laughed more, He taught me the difference between holiness and righteousness, He led me into fields of wonder and vast spaces of the incomprehensible. He debunked so many Christian slogans and holy one-liners and evangelical pat answers and 'techniques'--and left me sitting, and quiet, and calm--in the throneroom of worship...

the mind kept cooking under His tutelage, and thru this painful field trip...but to quote Packer: "But I have known God"!

He does seem to have carved His Son's character in me somewhat--i do experience those situations in which we get feedback from those around us, about some fruit of the spirit in our lives. and i do 'point' people to Him, about one a year; and witness to business executives weekly in my job--men/women who have not considered Christ since they were tiny. I understand this somewhat...a 'calling' to an everyday life, but interfacing with sharp, sharp people--and many with good, good questions--but ALL with old, old needs...

and then there's my kids...incredible people all, but all with still that borrowed faith/personal faith %mix of those raised in Christian homes...all are comfortable with my incessant stream of Christian 'observations' and theological blatherings and pattern correlation...they smile and track and will be so far ahead of me in this beautiful worldview--when THEY fall in love with the desire of the nations...and my learning is not enough! the questions they ask, esp. the oldest, are NEW and different and non-standard, and are being used of God to stretch me even farther and see things 'farther out'...

and then there's the ThinkTank--the consumer of all i have ever read, learned, questioned, feared...the place where the questions further sculpt me and 'grind me up' draw me out to 'scary questions' long avoided, but which teaches me that NO FEAR applies to the disciple of the God of Truth...the crucible in which my worldview is becoming more articulate and fine-spun, and its beauty and completeness becomes more obvious to me--to the praise of the glory of His godhead!

I find myself telling this One in the mornings sometimes, "You really are GOD--in all that means, in more than I could possibly pack into that word, in the fullest meaning of that word--which only YOU know"...and each day, with each experience, that word means MORE and BIGGER and BETTER than it did the day before...

So, i still dont understand...but i see my life differently now...i enjoy Him, I walk with Him, and serve Him in a couple of quiet areas: my little Sunday school class, my job--with its many contacts, my kids, the Thinktank. And, quite frankly, there's not anymore time left in the week...

And I'm almost 45 years old. I am hurtling towards my meeting with Him, and have honestly given up on getting the "well done, good and faithful servant"...but i know grace...and know that He will affirm me, and focus on the little that I DID accomplish for Him, and wipe away these tears of frustration and grief over lost opportunities, and quickly--very quickly--get through with my 'mgt. review' (Rom 14:12) and begin showing me the place he build for me (John 14)...such love!

so i forget the things behind, and reach forward toward the things to come...I ask each day what the action items are.. I keep short accounts with my family, in case He comes to meet me, or calls me to meet Him...and review EACH NIGHT in detail (in my journal) "What I did for the Kingdom today"--(hopefully He will let me use this audit trail in my 'accounting session' since my memory is so bad)...

Our situations are obviously different, but our questions and frustrations are no doubt similar...

You know the drill...and it will no doubt happen to you and i again...and again...and again...in His process of transforming us into the incredibly subservient and obedient character of the God-man in Gethsemane!



The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)