I happened to be just surfing on the web when I stumbled upon this blog by BJ Woodworth, the pastor of Open Door, a Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. Woodworth was recently ordained and his father, also a Presbyterian minister, gave the charge. He based it on Luke 7:18-23 where John the Baptist asks Jesus if he is one or should he be expecting someone else. Rev. Woodworth spoke about the pain and dissapointment that pastors face. Our expectations don't meeting the reality and well, God has some 'splaining to do.
Here is part of what Rev. Woodworth said:
Jesus’ response to such a question is simple – he says I know you may be disappointed but I am asking you to trust me. You see even if Jesus had struck Herod with fire, freed John from prison and pulled up the other tares in John’s life, he would never have been truly free apart from a deep trusting relationship with Jesus.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are not offended by me – or stumbling over me”. We may be tempted to stumble over people and circumstances, pain and disappointment but we’re really stumbling over Jesus, offended by Jesus because he’s moving too slowly or because he hasn’t removed the tares in our life and the real temptations to look for something else – a better method, a new program, another seminar or a field with less tares – or even worse, tempted to join the thousands of pastors each year who give upon their call. My son – stay the course – have a burning patience – that quality of faith which keeps you living in the already and not yet – that will give meaning and strength to your ministry. Disappointments and even failures will come but you have a vision of the splendid city – you have hope – and just like the prophet Jeremiah, “before you were born God set you apart and appointed you to be his spokesman to the world.”
Trust and hope.
I have not been shy about being disappointed these past five years as an ordained pastor. I've dealt with setback after setback and wonder: where is God? Why does this have to be so freakin' hard?
But maybe God is saying that we, that I, have to trust God and have hope. What do I have to lose?
Hope has always been an important word for me. Maybe it's because in the end, that's all we can hold on to: that despair and dissapointment are not the last word.
All I can do is hope.