From “What If” to Real Faith Part II

With each ring the cell phone seemed to get louder, the air thinner, and I was finding breathing to be a chore.  Our children even paused their relentless stream of questions “Why is the sky blue?” ” How much further?” “Has anyone seen my gameboy?”  in order to listen in on the conversation.  With as much manly manliness as I could muster, and with a very nice barritone phone voice I said, “Hello”. 

I can’t remember which of the committee members I talked to.   I just know that the conversation included a happy salutation, some small talk, a conclusion, and somewhere in the middle they extended an invitation to come preach in view of a call.  Now you might be tempted to think that that invitation made us extremely happy.  Being picked first for anything is usually a great honor.    I was honored, but I wasn’t happy because the process had now moved from serious to critical.  We couldn’t muster one happy thought.  I even entertained the crazy notion of staying another few years at seminary to avoid making a decision.  That momentary lapse of reason only lasted until I remembered my last 31/2 years at seminary.  Instead of stepping out in faith, I did what any indecisive procrastonator does. . . I told the pastor search committee that I would call them back. 

I think that every one ought to have to serve on a pastor search committee, or go through the process in order so see how God uses it to bring the right man to the right church at just the right time.  If I could describe the pastor search process in language most folks could understand, I would have to describe it as a spiritual guantlet.  It is like running through a maze of churches, committees, and pay packages, and when you get to the end of the process in all comes down to one giant leap of faith.  Faith that God has brought you through the process and narrowed the field of churches to the right one.  Faith that God has worked in the lives of the search committee just as He has worked with the pastoral candidate.  Unfortunately my faith was taking a back seat to my humanity.   

Even before we got back to seminary our list of reasons to turn the commitee down had turned into an impressive outline with major points and sub categories.   Most of our reasons centered around the fact that we were not rural people.  We liked malls, name-brand resturaunts, convenient amusements, and easy access to Baskin Robbins!  We liked all of the options that the city provided for our children. Our list was long and included perfectly legitimate reasons not to go.  It made sense to us that the place didn’t match our likes and dislikes. 

Turns out that God was also working on a list.  His list included every story in the Bible where people were called to do things that didn’t make any sense at all in human terms.   It seemed like every sermon, devotion, and seminary class I was taking led me to God’s list.  God’s list is found in Hebrews chapter 11.  This is where you should pause and go read Hebrews chapter 11.  In chapter 11, we see example after example of God’s strength, wisdom, and love in people that were not strong, wise, or even loveable.  I began to see that God might want to humble us and display His mighty power by putting us in a place where our strength and wisdom were mute.  We would be out of our element and would have to depend solely on Him.   Reluctantly and almost begrudingly towards God, I called Hugh Tyler (commitee chariman) and set a date to preach for the entire church.  Our journey from “what if” to real faith was certainly not complete, but that phone call to Hugh was a huge step in the right direction.  My decision to accept their invitation was about seven parts curiosity and three parts faith.  In the coming days, God would show my family and me what a real step of faith looked like. 

The next few days became our greatest journey of faith.  God was taking us from our “what ifs” to real faith in Him.  We were taken to the very edge of our wisdom, strength, and patience.  We were taken past what our senses could comprehend into the realm of the unknown.  God required us to walk out to the edge of ourselves. . . and then He required one more step.  It is that step of faith that I’ll tell you about in Part III.       



Published in: on February 4, 2008 at 5:21 pm  Comments Off on From “What If” to Real Faith Part II  
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