It’s no secret, in a couple of weeks, I am formally transitioning out of my role as young adult pastor. As I said to a friend the other day who is in the same boat as I am, “See you on the other side of employment!” That was meant to be a joke but there really is something about staring into the fog of the future that is, well, unnerving.
The best way I can describe is that it feels an impending cliff. I know that I will “drop off” into something but at this point the uncertainty of “what”, “where” and “when” is hazy at best. Like on a really humid day, the ambiguity of the situation feels like the humidity as it sticks to your skin. It you palpably feel it and theres’ really nothing you can do about it no matter how many showers you take!
I said this to someone yesterday and I hope that it resonates to people as they hear our story. There have been two important ways we have tried to stay grounded during this time of uncertainty. In fact, life has a certain ambiguity that comes with it – no one controls their life in such a way that they completely avoid potholes or major swerves along the path. The twists and turns of life, the ambiguity of how we are getting to the final destination, the telos of life is often unpredictable and sometimes painful. Yet through it all, two “thoughts” have brought us great comfort and courage.
Here’s the first thought: God’s sovereignty. While that doesn’t discount the choices we make, I can certainly vouch for the fact that deeply knowing God is “In this” has been reassuring. I’m grateful for being reminded over and over in the past that through it all God remains in control, He is not surprised by the turn of events, and He is redemptively working toward a great end. Nothing clears up shaky theology like hard times where one has to literally place their weight on God to lead, guide, and provide. He is “In it” with us and He is “over all”.
The second thought is this: I am not a pastor. That might shock you but what I mean by that is at the core of my being, I am not a pastor. There are crazymaking patterns of drawing too tight a connection between who I am and what I do. Think of what might happen if my identity was solely in what I did and then I lost my job. I am first and foremost loved and cared for by a all-benevolent God who has not only forgiven me but has welcomed me into His family by showering me with all the blessings of the gospel! He sees me and treats me like He treats His Son. My identity is not in what I do or what titles I have but how deeply the Father cares for me.
I have had moments of internal panic. The ride has not been smooth. We sometimes have asked, “God, what’s on the other side of employment?” “God, what are you doing?” “God, can you clear things up a bit?” In the end, there is ambiguity in all of life. But the clarity comes when He is the answer. Psalm 73:28 reads, “But as for me, the nearness of God is mu good.” I can think of a lot of things in my life that I think are good for me, but it’s His nearness in my life that is my ultimate good.