Easter Conversation with God from a Troubled Pastor

Easter Conversation with God from a Troubled Pastor March 27, 2013

Me:  “OK, God, can’t you see that I’m in the midst of doing all this for You?  Look at all the services we’ve planned!  See how creative they are!  We’re doing such a great job telling that Passion Week and Easter story. So, that being the case, how about you take all this other stuff away?  You know, as in, ‘Let this cup pass from me.'”

God, “I think you may be missing something.”

Above was the conversation taking place in my mind a few minutes ago.  With a worship service looming this evening, I heard about the father of one of my members being near death.  For many reasons, I knew I needed to get to the hospital.  Immediately. So, off I went.

After that important time there, I sat in my car for a few minutes, my mind filled with something perilously close to rebellious and grumbling thoughts.  The week, fully loaded anyway, again with all that creative and wonderful and carefully planned worship, had also landed me with a very, very difficult problem in the life of this church that cannot not be ignored.  And which has taken, and will continue to take, heaping amounts of time and energy to resolve. Now, this possible death will cause major derailment in the life of someone whom I love profoundly. And upon whose faithful service  I depend.

And then, there is my ongoing concern, in these days of being measured in effectiveness only by numbers: Will mine look good?  Will enough people show up for Easter Worship that the worship average will raise appreciatively for the year?  Will enough money land in the offering plates to deal with a year where we are already showing a deficit?

In other words, it’s all about me.

I began to think of those who do rarely attend worship and who might still have vestiges of a need to attend on Easter or Christmas.  Those numbers, in my experience, are growing fewer and fewer.  And I don’t blame them.  We pull out all the stops and create spectacular worship on those special occasions but . . . have we not just bought into the whole, “if we don’t entertain them, they won’t come back?” syndrome?  And if so, how consistent is it with who Jesus was and what Jesus did and taught? Haven’t we just presented the lie of an easy Christianity rather than the truth of a narrow and complicated path to perfection in love?

I wonder if we (I) are just putting on an act for the sake of something that is false at its core.

I wonder if I really am willing to say, “Please let this cup pass from me but . . . above all, Your will be done.”  What if it is God’s will for me to serve a church whose numbers don’t look good?  What if it is God’s will for me to take a hard hit for betrayal by someone I thought I could trust with my life?  What if it is God’s will for me to go out alone, a failure, despised and rejected, covered with stripes, weeping in abandoned pain?

I wonder if I am really willing to follow Jesus all the way to the cross, to go into the darkness of that death, to wait until the Spirit of God is able to bring about a resurrection.

This is what I signed on for when I followed the call into the ministry of the ordained. But oh, I do so want this cup to pass from me.  Yet . . . yet, not my will.  No, not my will here.  Thy will be done.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jimmie R. Plunkett

    When one cares, life is a constant decision-making process.

  • Jimmie R. Plunkett

    When one cares, life is a constant decision-making process.

  • Angie Hammond

    Ok, maybe this was not your intention with this post, but it certainly spoke to me just now. I am especially torn this time of year as my mother had a stroke last year just a couple of days before Easter. I remember my feelings so very well when my calls to our pastor were not returned and it seemed as if we were ignored or not important since it was after all the week before Easter and it was so busy with services and all. My mother lay in her hospital bed with terminal cancer and just having had a stroke that took what quality of life she had left and trashed it and she had no visit from her pastor. I do not know how she felt, but I know how I felt.

    So Christy, your questions about how you will be judged etc. I get them. But more importantly, I hear you saying God I heard you calling me and I said yes even though at times I’d like to not have to go through these things. You keep saying yes and because you do those like the family you went to see in the hospital tonight know that they are loved and that God does love them. You bring to them through your faithfulness God’s gift of love and grace. Thank you for answering his call and saying not your will but His. I too am a product of His work through you.

    Even tonight I feel His love though this blog post. Because you went to tend to the needs of one of those you pastor. What love you have and show. God Bless You and those you pastor. Please if you can let the family know that they are in my prayers during their difficult time.

  • Angie Hammond

    Ok, maybe this was not your intention with this post, but it certainly spoke to me just now. I am especially torn this time of year as my mother had a stroke last year just a couple of days before Easter. I remember my feelings so very well when my calls to our pastor were not returned and it seemed as if we were ignored or not important since it was after all the week before Easter and it was so busy with services and all. My mother lay in her hospital bed with terminal cancer and just having had a stroke that took what quality of life she had left and trashed it and she had no visit from her pastor. I do not know how she felt, but I know how I felt.

    So Christy, your questions about how you will be judged etc. I get them. But more importantly, I hear you saying God I heard you calling me and I said yes even though at times I’d like to not have to go through these things. You keep saying yes and because you do those like the family you went to see in the hospital tonight know that they are loved and that God does love them. You bring to them through your faithfulness God’s gift of love and grace. Thank you for answering his call and saying not your will but His. I too am a product of His work through you.

    Even tonight I feel His love though this blog post. Because you went to tend to the needs of one of those you pastor. What love you have and show. God Bless You and those you pastor. Please if you can let the family know that they are in my prayers during their difficult time.

  • Numbers are so ingrained in us that we struggle to remain focused on what is truly important…God,people, and relationships. praying

  • Numbers are so ingrained in us that we struggle to remain focused on what is truly important…God,people, and relationships. praying

  • Don Wiley

    In the same way you were able to discern a call on your life to the professional ministry out of all the success, disappointment, parental responsibility, busyness, economic realities… in other words, amidst the ‘noisiness of life’, you heard the still, small voice which said “Christy, I have a special plan for you…”, I believe you will again discern God’s renewed call for your action and your faithfulness. He’s asking for our faith…

    Each time I sing, just like the funeral I sang just two hours ago, I pray to just be the voice God needs for that that particular family and group. Ever since I began that rather elementary exercise in humility – something of which I am never really accused – twenty five years ago, singing has taken a rather different path. It’s not about me anymore… and that is of great comfort…

    I have faith in your faithfulness. Whatever the ‘results’ are, I know our Father honors commitment… in His way. Christy, know you are loved by those around you, acting as the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ. God loves us from a bottomless abyss of undeserved, unconditional love. It is that simple…and profound. To paraphrase, Jesus loves you and me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so…

    Peace and grace,

    Don

    • Thank you, Don. Those are beautiful words and reading them brings me comfort. I don’t think we are ever too old to hear again, “Jesus loves me.”

  • Don Wiley

    In the same way you were able to discern a call on your life to the professional ministry out of all the success, disappointment, parental responsibility, busyness, economic realities… in other words, amidst the ‘noisiness of life’, you heard the still, small voice which said “Christy, I have a special plan for you…”, I believe you will again discern God’s renewed call for your action and your faithfulness. He’s asking for our faith…

    Each time I sing, just like the funeral I sang just two hours ago, I pray to just be the voice God needs for that that particular family and group. Ever since I began that rather elementary exercise in humility – something of which I am never really accused – twenty five years ago, singing has taken a rather different path. It’s not about me anymore… and that is of great comfort…

    I have faith in your faithfulness. Whatever the ‘results’ are, I know our Father honors commitment… in His way. Christy, know you are loved by those around you, acting as the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ. God loves us from a bottomless abyss of undeserved, unconditional love. It is that simple…and profound. To paraphrase, Jesus loves you and me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so…

    Peace and grace,

    Don

    • Thank you, Don. Those are beautiful words and reading them brings me comfort. I don’t think we are ever too old to hear again, “Jesus loves me.”

  • Don Wiley

    In the same way you were able to discern a call on your life to the professional ministry out of all the success, disappointment, parental responsibility, busyness, economic realities… in other words, amidst the ‘noisiness of life’, you heard the still, small voice which said “Christy, I have a special plan for you…”, I believe you will again discern God’s renewed call for your action and your faithfulness. He’s asking for our faith…

    Each time I sing, just like the funeral I sang just two hours ago, I pray to just be the voice God needs for that that particular family and group. Ever since I began that rather elementary exercise in humility – something of which I am never really accused – twenty five years ago, singing has taken a rather different path. It’s not about me anymore… and that is of great comfort…

    I have faith in your faithfulness. Whatever the ‘results’ are, I know our Father honors commitment… in His way. Christy, know you are loved by those around you, acting as the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ. God loves us from a bottomless abyss of undeserved, unconditional love. It is that simple…and profound. To paraphrase, Jesus loves you and me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so…

    Peace and grace,

    Don

    • Thank you, Don. Those are beautiful words and reading them brings me comfort. I don’t think we are ever too old to hear again, “Jesus loves me.”