Last week I had the privilege of sitting on a friends deck to just pour my heart out. There were some unresolved things going on in my heart that needed to be dealt with. Nothing earth shattering, just a build up of things that needed to be purged in the presence of a trusted friend. As I was talking I said some things that I really didn’t like coming out of my mouth. Over the years I have learned that this is one of the way that I process. In some cases, it takes saying it multiple times for me to hear what I am really saying. It may be weird but it’s just the way I process things from time to time.
The next morning, as I was preparing breakfast and listening to a Craig Groecshel sermon, he made a statement that resonated with me. He talked about there being certain “anchor moments” in life. I realized that the evening before, God’s grace provided yet another “anchor moment” for me. Anchor moments isn’t a theological term just a term another pastor used and I find to be very relevant to me. The way I would define an anchor moment would be a moment in life where you are able to put an anchor down and realize this is where you need to be. It is a moment of self realization that you want to plant on and not move from. In other words you don’t want to pull up your anchor from that moment. You will move again, you will continue to grow, but hopefully in other areas of life. The hope is that in that area of life, this is the lesson learned and it will stick.
Long story short; The past two plus years have been some of the best and also some of the most challenging of ministry. The good things that have happened have been; Relationships we have formed with people that are solid and hopefully life long; The fact that I am fortunate enough to be on one of the most capable church staffs I have ever been around; I have been able to be in ministry with lay people who see their lives as living sacrifices and want to see lives changed and people embrace the redemption that is offered so freely to them. The challenging stuff has been invaluable to my growth as a human being and as a pastor. I won’t go into the details of the challenging stuff, just know that the challenges have been legitimate. The kind of stuff that honestly makes you look in the mirror from time to time and ask the question; “am I really built for this?”
All of that being said, I had to hear myself say a couple of things to realize my heart needed to be redirected where it should always be pointed in the first place, at the foot of the cross. There are times as a pastor where the temptation to pat yourself on the back is very real. It is even worse when it is fueled by the self righteous position of wanting people to know what you have done and what you have been through. There are times, even in the life of a pastor, where you want to scream “but look what I have done!”. The problem with that is that “what I have done” can never mean anything relative to who I am. Who I am is a blood bought believer in Jesus Christ. I am made in His Image and called to walk a life not of my own choosing but one in complete surrender to Him. There is nothing that I can do that will ever justify me to the King. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. My only part to play in that justification is faith. Nothing else! Jesus does it all! Every bit of it. All the good that comes to us in life, all of the things we deal with in life and in ministry that produces any fruit, only produce said fruit because of who He created us to be and the fact fact that we are walking in His grace. His grace goes before us as He woos us to him. His grace justifies us when we accept His unbelievable gift that can also be defined as crazy, ridiculous love. His grace sustains us in sanctification, or in the process of his grace guiding us through life as we place our trust in Him.
Please know that the God we serve operates in places and in ways that we can’t possibly imagine. So He understands things that we aren’t supposed to understand. Romans 8:28 says “All things work for good for those that love God and are called according to His purpose.”. Does this mean that God makes all the bad things happen too? I don’t believe that. I believe it means that God can take the bad stuff and make it good if our faith is there for it to happen.
While God operates in places we can’t understand, the good news is that we don’t operate in places He doesn’t understand. Jesus, God incarnate, walked our walk and felt our pain. Jesus was tempted. Jesus knows what it was like to grow up in a regular home where sometimes “ends don’t meet.” Jesus knows what it was like to be stabbed in the back by someone and have trust betrayed. Jesus understands where you are! Let Him take you to the next place, to your next anchor moment. After all, He is the anchor of life. He is the rock upon which we stand. He is the one capable of being trusted. And He will always come through and can always be trusted!