Wednesday with Michael Spencer
Just a guy with a life (excerpt from Chronicle of the Journey, 2008)
I’m a fifty one year old guy whose days leading churches in his denomination are probably over, whose wife got burned out in the non-existent “spirituality” of 30+ years of Baptist church life and ministry, who has been at his current job long enough for some people to wish he wasn’t, who has been stationed out on the frontier where there are no churches to shop, who spent so many years thinking so many things in his head were scriptural, reformed and right that it really hurts to have to admit he was wrong, wrong and wrong. In that order.
I’m just a guy with a life, and life is full of failure and loss. I wanted MINISTRY to be the ongoing reward. I wanted USEFULNESS to be my satisfaction. I wanted to be SIGNIFICANT. I wanted the contract to be in place and the insurance to protect me because I was the guy with the Bible. Well, that didn’t go very well, did it?
God thought it was time for all that nonsense to stop, and for the lifelong addiction I’d developed to my church as my universe, my wife as unquestioning supporter and my theology as my version of the inerrant Word of God to end. He made an appointment to pull the teeth, and I was not consulted in advance.
Ordinary life, extraordinary events and stuff that just don’t make no sense all combine to rearrange the furniture of my world. Every time I head for a comfortable seat, God sells it. Every time I look for the comfort food, the fridge is empty. Every time I get out my copy of “Things You KNOW Are True,” the dog has eaten it.
My faith continues. Jesus now fills the picture in a way he didn’t before. I realize I have a lot to learn from simple people who never get into pulpits and who aren’t supposed to know everything in the Bible like I supposedly do. My love for my wife and our Christian marriage continues, and there is much good that was not there before. I returned to church today, alone- something that in my anger I said I wouldn’t do. I was reminded that here I won’t ever be turned away from the table. I prayed for the five who were baptized. I was reminded that the faith goes far beyond me, my time, my preferences and my lifetime. I looked, and there were the people of God, and I was one of them. They asked me to lead in prayer, and the words were more careful than before.
I was grateful. I talked to Jesus and he told me it is all going to be all right, that I’m free to walk the new path as I can, and he will not leave me or forsake me. I felt sorry for my sin, and happy to know my Savior loves me.
Life goes on. Losses, gains, light, shadow, confusion, laughter, tears, God, Jesus, Denise, me.
When I look up from the road, I notice that the lights in the distance are closer and the noise behind me is not as loud.
Good journey friends. See you on up the road.