Earlier this week, I got a message from a pastor at a local church we’ve been attending off and on. He sent the message to his entire congregation telling us that he had received a ‘Word from the Lord,’ and that we didn’t want to miss this Sunday. I really didn’t want to go. In fact, I wasn’t planning on going. Christy and the kids were going to a festival in Greenville with her mom. I was planning on helping out with the breakfast that Emmanuel was having for graduates and their families. Turned out I wasn’t needed.
So, I decided to go to said church at the last minute. I was actually five minutes late and they had already sung one song. After just a couple of songs, it was time for the revelation of the special Word from God. Why this was different than any other Sunday is still a mystery to me. Shouldn’t every message you have be a ‘Word from the Lord?’ If not, then what’s the point of preaching, really? Anyway, that’s a different issue for different post.
Usually, when someone announces to a congregation that they have received a special revelation from God, you expect some big new vision to be revealed (like when Gary Lamb recently announced their church was going multi-site), or some major shakeup is going to happen (many people had initially thought the pastor was going to announce his resignation…he didn’t). Christy was secretly hoping he was going to challenge everyone associated with the congregation to adopt a child, and they were going to do everything possible to help families do that (adoption is yet another post for another time. I’m sure it’s in our future at some point…). None of these ideas are even close to what he had to say…
“Don’t give up. Persevere.”
That’s the basic thrust of his message. It was, honestly, one of the better sermons I have heard from the guy. He was passionate and had obviously put a lot of time, thought, and prayer into the sermon. Even the songs we sang tied into the message, which I always appreciate. Although this ‘Word from God’ seemed a little anticlimactic because it wasn’t anything earth-shattering or paradigm-shifting, it was still a message that definitely needed to be spoken. It’s one that needed to be heard.
So, a few hours later I’m at Emmanuel’s graduation. The man delivering the commencement address had one basic point that he expounded upon for about a half an hour.
“Don’t give up. Persevere.”
Now, these two events have absolutely nothing to do with each other except for the fact that 1) They seek to honor the same risen Lord, and 2) I was the only one to have been at both places. When messages/events converge that have nothing to do with each other at face value, but tell me the exact same thing, I’m usually one to sit up and take notice.
In my Elijah sermon, I spoke about waiting for a neon sign from God and how that doesn’t normally happen to people. In many ways, I’m wondering if this was my neon sign. I get the message – “Don’t give up.” But here’s where I’m confused – Don’t give up what?
For the last few weeks, I’ve been wondering if I should give up on the ministry search for right now. It appears that whirlwind tour will end up fruitess. Some more churches have expressed interest and I’ve still been sending out resumes. But we’re almost to the ‘point of no return.’ Once the kids start school again in July, we really don’t want to yank them out of school to move away. That would be too hard on them. So, I’ve considered putting the whole ministry search ‘on hold.’
In addition, this semester was rough for me. I bit off more than I could chew in some ways. On top of that, I had a general sense of apathy throughout most of the semester (as expressed several times in this journal). I’ve considered giving up on seminary. If I were to take a ministry position, I would probably have to give up on the degree anyway – at least for a while as I tried to get established in a church.
And then there’s thewhole idea of planting a church in Evansville.
So – I get the point that I’m not supposed to give up. I see the neon sign flashing away. I just don’t know what exactly I’m supposed to persevere at pursuing.
Maybe next time God will hit me on the head with a brick instead. Or at least write the sign in English. Or SpangDeutschLish, since I’m such a wonderful communicator in both Spanish and German.