Closing up shop

I think it is time to call this blog done.

Not because I am not wandering any more, but because I am not a shepherd.

The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions.  I generally feel very, very low with times of feeling lower.  At this point, I am pretty sure my qualifications as a shepherd of Israel are waning fast.

Almost as fast as my desire.

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to read.   I do wish this story had a happy ending.

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Et tu Brute?

Yesterday S and I went back to the church building to do a funeral for a very close friend.  I was already an emotional wreck.

Three of the four elders were there.  My closest “friend” among them was the one missing.  I trusted these guys.

Two of them came up to me offering their hand.  One came to give me a hug.  Both expressed their love for me.  They are praying for me.

I couldn’t help it….I coughed “Bullshit” into my hand as they left.

How can someone speak love while betraying?  How can someone who has betrayed have the nerve to approach the betrayed  and speak words like “love” and “prayer?”  It is as if by using Christian words, they can cover their guilt.

But the knife in their hand betrays the truth.

Their betrayal was so high handed.  They lured me in with friendship and played on my call, then when I was fully trusting them, they took turns stabbing their blades through me.   The whole time, they were luring in their next victim.

When E was doing his crap, I could deal with it.  He was overtly evil.  It is the evil masked in righteousness that has thrown me for such a loop

There are days I think I am doing better.  Days I mouth things like forgiveness.  Days like yesterday remind me of my own frailty.  They remind me I have not forgiven, I have not healed.

I cannot say, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing,” because they do.  The whole weight of forgiveness rests on me.  I must figure out how to really forgive.  I have a sneaking suspicion my soul depends on it.


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Vessel on the Shelf

That is how I’m feeling now. Sunday the 12th was my last day as worship leader at the church and now I join D wandering, waiting, wanting…

Fifteen years I spent as part of the worship ministry, the last nine as their pastor. And now I’m not, that simple, that quick, that… Do you just stop being a pastor?

T and I could no longer serve where men put themselves ahead of Christ and make claims that only Jesus has the right to. Or where servants of God are cast aside over made up errancies.

But I hurt for the church. D and I poured ourselves out for these people as vessels of wine are served to the thirsty. We would spend hours exploring creative ways to deliver hope, grace, forgiveness, and love, something this church needed, badly. Now they will get something different which at this time appears to be dry toast. I hurt for the church.

I enjoyed being poured out, refilled, poured out again. It’s how I connected with my Saviour.

Now I feel like that box of canning jars everyone has in their garage… just a vessel on the shelf.

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One Last Time

Today is S’s last day at the church.

S resigned because he was tired of not trusting leadership.

S asked me to come for his last Sunday at the church.  I agreed.  I feel kind of sick, but I am going.

The church has already replaced me.  They are thrilled that the new pastor has sold his house and moved here.  The church has already replaced S.  They are taking a huge step backwards.

Backwards.  That is the direction the whole church is going.  Two years ago, the church was going in this direction.  After 2 years, it had finally turned around.  Now it is back on course.

Attendance is down so much they are eliminating one service entirely.  They were running just under 200 when we came and were running almost 300 when we left.  Now they have 150ish.

They went from a determined expositor preacher to a feel-good, all over  the map preacher.

They went from a worship leader who could lead worship to one who likes to lead hoe downs.

Yeah.  This is going to work.

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Another Week.

It has been a week since my last post.  Life seems to be settling down into a routine for me.

I think a lot about pastoral things.  I visit people who are sick.  I pray with people who are in need.  I talk to people who need a friend.

I think and do a lot of pastoral things, but the thing I don’t do much of is the stuff that related me to God.  I am not praying.  I am not studying the Bible.  I am not even thinking very deeply about God.

I go to church.  I can still talk about theological things.  But it is different.

I asked EJ, my daughter, if this had changed her view of God.  She said it didn’t, but it changed how she looks at people.  I think that is just as damaging.

She’s right, of course.  It has changed how I look at people.  Trust will be slower.  Words are more weighed.  I struggle to even carry on a conversation at times.  I don’t know who to trust.

Trust.  That is what I need to give back to God.  It is what I will have for people when the wounds heal a bit more.  I need healing.

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The Up Side of Being Down

Sunday was the worst day so far.  It was worse than the day I was fired because it is the day I most connect with God.  I most connect through preparation for and the preaching event.

This Sunday I listened to ok preaching at a foreign church and then I went home and listened online to the sermon preached from the pulpit I used to occupy.  The sermon preached there was hidious.

The message was preached by M, a former elder.  His message, “Submit to your elders no matter what they decide.”  I guess that is what you do when you are an authority who makes a stupid decision….you have someone beat the drum of your authority.

Anyway…it is getting better.  There have been a steady stream of emails and phone calls and personal visits to say, “Your ministry meant a lot to me.”  I can’t count the people who said, “I have never been so interested in following Jesus as when you preach.”

People are kind.

I am now just a “normal” church person.  I will follow Jesus, work my 50 hours and worship on Sunday.  Who knows, it may be good for me.  I just have to figure out a way to rewire my soul to find life in this routine.

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Inside My Sad Little Brain.

I don’t want to be melodramatic, but I want to try and explain how I feel.  This will be kind of stream of consciousness…

I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I don’t want to answer my phone—even if it is someone I know just wants to encourage me.

I went over to S’s house—I thought I might have a conversation worth something.  It wasn’t.  I didn’t know how to talk.  I don’t know what to say.  I just sat there like an empty shell.  We are both angry.  We are both hurt.  Neither of us know what to do.

I know the calling on my life and I feel like I have abandoned it.  Actually, it feels more like it has abandoned me.  Like the big fish spit me out into the middle of the sea.

I completely misjudged K and R as elders.  R was my friend.  His wound is deep.

The elders went to the congregation today and made it sound like they were saviors sweeping in to save the church from the terrible division T and I were causing.

I know, because I have at least a single objective bone in my body, my situation here is at least partly because I walked into a screwed up mess—perhaps mostly because of that—but I feel like such a failure.

My mom scolded me for feeling this way.  I can’t help it.  None of this is reasonable.  I know that.

W tells me we followed the call of God out here.  I am not so sure.

I am withdrawn.  I move easily between weeping, raging and not caring.

I don’t even know what would fix me.  If the church asked me back I would tell them “No way!”  If I went to another, I would be too frightened to move.

What do I do?  (I am not asking you…I am asking me…or maybe God…probably mostly me.)

I know I should be most concerned with the church.  I know there should be some way for me to be “ok” with all of this.  I am not.

I guess that is all for now.  I read over this, it is almost incoherent, but I feel that way too.


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