The day is starting off warm but I have hopes it won’t end that way. There’s a breeze you see, and words of approaching thunderstorms.
Indeed, yesterday afternoon some came by, and dropped a wee bit of rain on us. It wasn’t very much, only it was enough to cool the breeze, fill the sky with some active clouds, and otherwise make what was getting to be a ludicrous stretch of hot weather into something far more appreciated.
Basically, there have been two things God has thrust me into learning for the last long while, and not just learning about, but really finding, so that the depths of my soul become saturated with these. They are the kinds of things I could have never, ever really taken hold of had I stayed in constant ministry, or even stayed where I would have all the other sorts of ‘interests’ more easily pursued.
I see it, very much, as a return to the old patterns of the Christian life, where God called people out of the normal stream of things because the lessons of deep spirituality tend to be best grasped in the desert (real or figuratively). My seminary life taught me a great deal, and my own self-confidence spurred me onwards thinking I could have a rather good time of it. Only God put up the stop sign, closed all the doors, and said, “Wait here a while, Patrick. Sit a spell, won’t you?”
In being stopped, and in being separated for a time, pulled out of the relationships and friendships, and other sorts of ‘success’ I have found both prayer and humility in a way which has transformed my perspective profoundly, even if this doesn’t always come out in a casual conversation.
Both of these things are essential, and yet neither of which are things which those who professionally lead the Church tend to exemplify (with rare and notable exceptions of course).
God is doing a work, but it’s all foundational work, taking my seminary and training and gifts and making them turn towards the Spirit rather than turn towards some other notion of success, leaving me willing to wait and always watchful for how the Spirit is working, knowing that even in this curious set of circumstances God already has done something significantly more profound than if I had wandered off to even a succesful ministry or job during the same amount of time. God knows his work, and he does a curious work to be sure, but at the end of the day, whenever that comes, it’s the kind of thing that we will celebrate with thanksgiving about. The goal is to maintain the thanksgiving throughout as well, and see in faith and understand in faith what is happening, even if it seems little is happening.
So, that’s my little bit of thanksgiving, to make sure my occasional silly comments aren’t taken for some kind of grumbling.