I've been working on a Gospel record. It will be a collection of hymns, old blues tunes and a few songs I've written that fit the style of our band, The Double Downbeats. I'm setting out to assemble a collection of songs that are true to the condition of contradiction that a life in Christ represents. That, as Paul states, is the rub: "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." (Philippians 1:23-24) We believe in the power of an unseen God. But sometimes, it feels as though we don't even see the power. We do, truly, see only as a reflection in a mirror (1 Cor. 13:12).
As chronicled elsewhere on this blog, it's been a rough year. Multiple vehicle issues, various kinds of illness, schedule conflicts, general loneliness and other problems that I can't really categorize. Most people don't care to hear someone else complain about their life, so I won't delve into it any more except to say that it's been a faith shaker. And me and God, well, we've had some words...
Some people may take issue with that last statement. I think I'm in good company, to be honest. Although doubt is thought to be THE cardinal sin in some circles, the wrestling that comes with doubt is all over the Bible. I think a lot of people that have doubts never express them because the culture of their church is such that it just doesn't allow for that. It's uncomfortable. Someone else's doubt might reflect yours. But that's a mistake, and denies the overreaching history of God's people, and Scripture as well (Habakkuk 1, Job 19, etc.) When Jesus tells his disciples to not doubt, he's reminding them that God is all-powerful. He is not denying the situational wrestling that comes with faith, in which he himself engaged (Matthew 26:39).
We moved last year to take a break from full-time, paid church ministry, and to pursue music. To be honest, we needed the break. The pursuit of music didn't pan out (I probably should have saw that coming), but the break has been good: we have reevaluated our thinking on a variety of issues; we have appreciated the past blessings that we received; we figured out the puzzle of our next step. So, maybe we were "refined in fire" (1 Peter 1:7) for the last year. But, fire burns, you know. The writer of Hebrews tells us that "no discipline is pleasant at the time." No, it is not. But it does make you, well, refined. Better than you were. An extraction of your impurities and mistakes.
To that end, we have felt strongly about going back into full-time ministry. A little wiser, we're looking for the right place where we can work, in community, with other believers who are passionate and flawed. It's been a tough go, as I've written on an earlier post, but we're not giving up. A good portion of that process has been discouraging, to be honest. But I think God is teaching me, hard headed as I am, to find the right place, to be patient, to worry over nothing.
I have to say that I just don't understand everything that has happened in the last year. I also have to say that I'm not, at this point, okay with some of it. I've always had a hard time just letting trials go. But I can't shake this feeling that something is happening, that God is doing something here. After all, it's not all been bad: our adoption was finalized after a two year wait. So, I'm doing my best to remember that it is sometimes just about showing up instead of staying in bed; folding your hands in prayer instead of wringing them in agony; looking up instead of looking in the mirror. Something good is coming...there has to be.
Something Good Coming - Tom Petty