Share with Widgetbox

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Will of God

I haven't posted in a while. This is partly due to a virus which laid me off work for a week and has laid low my wife the past weekend but it is also because I have perceived, felt, sensed, imagined (?) quietness from God in terms of the direction of my life. I was going to try and write something erudite and considered as a post in reaction to this time but I am really not in a place to do so. This post is mostly for me to get my thoughts onto a firmer medium than my mind.

I was ordained as a Baptist Pastor. I am still not sure why this is such a big deal for me but, as much as I don't want it to, I believe that it still defines my identity. I'm not even sure what I'm writing but I need to start somewhere with some honesty and why not make my thoughts available to whomsoever?

A key part of my journey was a descent into chronic depression whilst working for a church post-college. I eventually left the church feeling that I was unable to continue in paid ministry. Since then I have struggled to come to terms with my mental illness and also to figure out where I am supposed to be going in my life. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with mild bi-polar disorder. I feel detached from my colleagues in ministry and I feel unemployable right now.

I know that this all sounds morbid but I am in a "down" cycle and struggling to face the immediate future. Money is tight as I am working 3 days a week in a low paid job and I am investigating post-graduate study options. I was seriously looking into a Masters of Theology until my wife asked me where it would lead and I couldn't say so I am looking into the original option of a Masters in Counseling. Then I ask if this is where I am meant to be or is it a "second best" option?

You see, I left Bible College believing that pastoral ministry was where I was headed. I had no idea that mental illness was going to blindside me derail my plans. Despite the circular, garbled nature of this blog perhaps this is my point, namely, were they only my plans and what are God's plans and where is God in the middle of my medicated, confused life and what of my "call" to ministry?

To be sure, I know that I am gifted at counseling and I certainly have insight into abuse, trauma and emotional struggle. For now, I will try and seek God. He seems to be awfully quiet but perhaps I don't want to hear what He is saying? I will go to work, look after my fantastic family and see what tomorrow brings. Don't let anyone tell you that there's a formula for knowing the will of God.

4 comments:

Patrik said...

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, I hope you find your way in the future.

You may or may not find a part of this post helpful (in particular the latter half).

Don't give up your dream: If God is speaking to us, surely it is in dreams like that he does so.

Renee said...

Les,
I really will be praying for you, as I imagine a lot people will beafter reading your post.

I like to think of intercessory prayer as a turning toward others in need. The church who reads this post will turn toward you. That includes many of us.

One thing I have learned about myself and others: God engages and uses less than perfect people. We are all flawed and broken.

Keep searching the possibilities, and don't be afraid to post about this again.

Renee

Christopraxis said...

Les,

I would like to echo what Renee said. I think we often want to be perfect. However, to one degree or another, we are broken. Pannenberg puts it well when he says we are "riveted in finitude." I like that phrase.

In reading the Bible, we find that God repeatedly chose to use people who, by the world's standards, are far from the obvious choice. A study of Christian history reveals that many (most?) of the men and women of God who have been used mightily struggled with various afflictions. Paul understood his own thorn in the flesh to be a weakness which allowed Christ to be strong in his life.

As you said, you have a gift in counseling, and perhaps that is because of your own struggles. Many times God uses our own struggles to minister to others with like struggles. Henry Nouwen referred to it as being a "Wounded Healer."

Patrik's comments on identity remind me of Thomas Merton's discussion of identity in Contemplation in a World of Action. His chapter on "The Identity Crisis" is worth the price of the whole book. He is writing to monastics, but the issues he addresses can be applied to any Christian.

I also am reminded of one of my favorite books by Merton, Life and Holiness. In it Merton discusses holiness vs. perfection, framing holiness in the action of God in us.

I think we all need to come to grips with our own limitations. These can be personal limitations, or those imposed on us due to our life situation. However, as we depend more on God's action in us than our own efforts, those limitations no longer limit our ability to be used by God.

Going back to Pannenberg's idea of us being riveted in finitude. He discusses how the infinite Triune God enters into our finitude and transforms us. We remain finite, but we benefit from his infinite resources at work in our life.

I think our task is to learn to respond to God, moment by moment, and to depend on Him. The questions of what the will of God is for your life still remains, but I think we all need to start with the little moment by moment responses. Then, the big choices that affect life and career become more obvious, I think, because they become a more natural outflow of what is happening on a daily basis.

Les said...

Thankyou so much for your kind words. I have appreciated all of these replies and have gained much wisdom and encouragement from them.

I am going to blog again soon. Thankyou. Bless you indeed.