Ministry Update – Three
Courage in the face of fear,
Faith in the face of doubt
(This segment is where I get a little personal and share some of my doubts and fears)
Did anyone out there ever become obsessed with juggling for like, three weeks? I remember my high school friend, Collin, and I getting really into it for like a month. We were pulling off the, “under the leg” stunt, the “behind the back” extravaganza, and even the remarkable, “two-person juggling” craziness… yeah, we weren’t very good. Never could figure out how four balls were supposed to happen. We sure had a good time though!
Living a life of faith and ministry feels a lot like I’m juggling tennis balls, basketballs and raw eggs all at the same time. I have a lot of things up in the air, catching one thing in this hand while releasing that thing with the other hand. Certain things definitely have more weight, while other things are quite fragile. It’s quite a different kind of life. Not quite the 9-5 that I was used to.
Ministry opportunities always seem to carry a lot of weight and get prioritized. Not because it’s absolutely the most important thing in life, just that it has the most limited scheduling options. So when needs come up, people need someone to talk with, pray with, or laugh with, you take your opportunity and go for it. Other things get pushed aside. These are my basketballs. Currently I am juggling 7 basketballs. Prayer Resolution, Prayer Resolution training, Immerse Discipleship weekly meetings, mentoring 3 Immerse disciples, Connections Team at Substance, Prayer Captain at Substance, and teacher at Substance’s discipleship school.
Intimacy with my Father and time with the wife are always the most fragile things I juggle. Those seem to be more flexible, but entirely more important. If I don’t have my alone time with my heavenly Father, I am not doing anything out of the peace that is mine to take hold of. If I don’t get my date night with Michelle and we grow apart, I lose my most valuable teammate and vessel of so many of God’s provisions into my life. I am growing more aware of the value of a good marriage and how God has intended it to be a blessing and a strengthening. I am truly blessed. These are my two eggs. I’ve got to be super careful and intentional about these.
After all this I have the “other stuff.” These are my tennis balls. They’re fairly manageable and if I drop them they’re not going to break. These are the things that I often have to trust my Father with as I take care of the heavy and fragile things.
For example, I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to do 160 hours of Prayer Resolution in five weeks with two different people who were desperately in need of the Father’s intervention in their lives. The problem was that I had this “tennis ball” I would totally have to drop for almost an entire month. That tennis ball is the construction work I am doing on my house. So, I dropped it and committed to doing ministry. I love doing ministry. I love almost every opportunity I get to be involved in God’s workings with someone. The struggle comes not in the ministry but with the question, “If I’m taking care of everybody else, who’s going to take care of me?”
So, things are getting cold around here pretty fast. I have windows to install and bathrooms to finish. Winter is on his way and the baby is growing like a champ and will be here soon! While the rest of the world is speeding by, construction is simply slow-going. It gets pushed aside as God continues to provide amazing ministry opportunities for me. There is a harvest taking place. It’s easy to doubt and question what will happen if I keep seeking Kingdom stuff first all the time, but what about all those verses? Could they be true?
Another example is that for the last month Michelle and I have been trying to get on a MN health care plan and WIC (A nutrition program to help pregnant women and children). It’s kind of a big deal, but with everything else going on it keeps getting pushed aside. Not to mention, this stuff is like trying to learn a brand new language! Man, it’s simply confusing and frustrating. After heading out to Target tonight at 9pm to pick up more printer ink, I’m starting to see how expensive it is (time, emotional energy and money) to try to use these programs. It reminds me that the government is never efficient although they seem to be doing more to help the poor than the church is.
The biggest temptation in all this is to throw in the towel, go back to the old way of life, work full time, fix all my problems, focus back on myself and take care of my own needs. Believe me, I’ve been there. Sometimes I am there! And, it’s only been a year since I sent in my resignation to my old job, pursuing a life of ministry and faith. How far can one go by simply living on faith? What about all the unexpected stuff like the furnace going out (which happened this last week… Praise God for a more efficient furnace!)? Is our Father able to handle all that stuff? What about housing markets and greedy banks and oppressive mortgages? Is that beyond God’s strong hand? Honestly, I often don’t know… not in my heart anyway. But, I’m willing to find out. I have enough faith to keep going, and that will have to do to move this mountain.
In the last week two different people have approached us and told us that they want to help support us and our ministry with a very substantial one-time gift. I cried… it’s true! It’s a humbling and honoring thing to be on the receiving side of generosity. I can’t stress enough how meaningful both of those gifts are to Michelle and I. They were so timely. Michelle and I had been going through such a difficult time of uncertainty and doubt and God used both of those people to assure us that He’s still taking care of us. He is fighting for us. And, He still has people in the world who are listening to Him and responding with inconvenient generosity. God is good, He answers prayers, and His church is still alive.