Fork in the Road (A Guest Post)

“Sometimes it’s embarrassing to talk to You, to hold a conversation with the only one who sees right through this version of myself I try to hide behind” -Relient K

Yes, I DID just brilliantly quote Relient K. Despite their [for some – unpreferred] punk rock tones the lyrics of certain Relient K songs are extremely deep and can speak to my Christian walk. This particular song “I Am Understood” perfectly depicts a 19 year old version of myself. Maybe you remember a time in your life where you met “the fork in the road” as a young person. Well, I hit mine at age nineteen. I needed to make a very specific decision that I knew would determine what kind of character I would have for the rest of my life. You see… God had called me to a very full life; a life that I would have to dedicate my whole self completely to His service. I have known since I was nine years old that God has called me to full time vocational ministry. However, this dream became a little tainted when I became a teenager. I quickly realized how difficult ministry life would be for myself and my future family (husband and children). So, I planned on making a deal with God. I created a few “terms” that were my conditions for accepting the job for full time ministry! I know… I was blindly arrogant and presumptuous because I was operating out of fear. And yet, God saw right through me and He “let me know I was understood”.

I am a fourth generation pastor’s kid. My parents are exceptional Pastors and always tried their best in keeping my childhood experience as it rightfully should be. Being a PK [Pastor’s Kid] is something I am very proud of. However, that also means I saw a side of ministry that most young people do not ever experience. I was exposed to the sacrificial and emotionally draining effects of ministry life. Through some of my PK friends and their families I saw the darkness of ministry failure. I saw so much anger and hurt from other wounded and failed pastors and missionaries. I knew the scary statistics for Pastor’s families. I realized as a young teen that my parent’s had somehow beaten the odds. Would I be so fortunate to replicate their success in my own adult life someday? I was so fearful to release my “terms” because I did not want my future family to struggle financially or even relationally. You’ll laugh when you hear that one of my terms was “I will NOT marry a Pastor under any circumstance”. I wanted to marry someone with a so called “normal” job that could provide a steady source of income who’s schedule was reliably 9am – 5pm. That way I could continue to do ministry myself and not have to worry about making money to provide for a family. I had to be [what I thought was] realistic about life! I thought if I married a Pastor then my children would eventually miss out on something due to our busy ministry schedule. So, I tried living my life on my precious terms. This proved more difficult than I anticipated! I was trying to do ministry uninhibited, but my “terms” kept on getting in the way! I desired to be captivated by Christ and wanted to grow my relationship with Him more and more, but this required full obedience to Him.

Ultimately, I was faced with that proverbial “fork in road”. I had to make a decision to either cling to my terms, or cling to God and trust He would take care of me. Finally, I was tired of the charade. Decision time was unavoidable. I just could not continue running from the full embrace of God’s calling – it became so draining! I couldn’t keep everything together, only God could meet all my needs.

During that decision time I spent so much time in prayer seeking God. As I made changes in my life God began to reveal to me a new set of terms – His promises! He promised to be with me, to meet all my needs, and assured me that He would always have my back. A difficult time of transition became an era of promises! My God had proven faithful to me, yet again. As Relient K sings “You’re the only one who knows [me] yet still loves [me] completely… through the times I’ve faded and you’ve outlined me again; You’ve just patiently waited to bring me back… Your voice has broken my defense. Let me embrace salvation.”

Six years later my life hasn’t been easy, but it’s been beautiful. I have watched God provide in good times and bad. He has delivered to me an amazing husband that I can live out my youth ministry calling with. Can you believe I ended up marrying a Pastor? We make an incredible team – leaving a dent in the kingdom of darkness! I wish there were words that existed to more accurately describe how fulfilling, joyous, and comforting it is be in the perfect will of the Father. I could have had a decent or “good” life on my terms… but now I’m living an EXTRAORINDARY life that is beyond my wildest dreams on His terms. How could I have ever thought my plans were better than God’s plan for me?

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:3-6

Kimberly Clervois is an enthusiastic Youth Minister with a passion for this generation of teenagers.

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Winning in the Twelfth Inning

How can you not be romantic about baseball? – Billy Beane

Last Saturday, my family had the opportunity to attend a baseball game at Fenway Park. For many years, I worked in a research lab across the street from Fenway, so taking the subway into the city brought back memories. You could not have asked for a more beautiful September afternoon to enjoy a baseball game.

America’s Pastime

Sitting in a good seat directly behind home plate, I quickly understood why baseball earned the appellation “America’s pastime”.  As the vendors came through the stands with hotdogs, lemonade, hot chocolate, and cotton candy, I felt like I was having a picnic with all the other fans. People passed money and napkins down the rows, helping each other. The entire stadium participated in “the wave”, standing with arms thrown in the air just long enough to create a ripple effect.  Everyone enjoyed a party in the stands for many innings as the two teams scored runs.

The Ninth Inning

The atmosphere changed a bit in the final inning. At the bottom of the eighth inning, the Boston Red Sox tied the Baltimore Orioles, 6-6. Everyone focused on the field during the ninth inning, especially me. When the Baltimore Orioles failed to score in the top of the ninth, I grew excited at the possibility of my home team winning this game. What a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, the ninth inning ended with the tie still standing. Now the Red Sox had to keep the Baltimore Orioles from scoring in yet another inning. While I grew a little nervous for the Red Sox, I felt I just received a bonus. I would have the chance to enjoy the game longer. In the top of the tenth inning, one player grounded out to third, one flied out to right, and the last player grounded out to second. Relief washed over me! Time to win the game in the bottom of the tenth.

Only Runs Count

The shadow of the stadium grew long across the field, and many fans seated around me headed for home.  In baseball and in life, not everyone sticks around when the game goes into extra innings.  When one player singled to the left, then advanced to second when another player walked, I thought the Red Sox would win the game.  After all, they finally got on base, something the other team failed to do.  But in baseball, only runs count. The next player struck out swinging, and all the hard work was for nothing.

The Green Monster at Fenway Park runs out of room after ten innings, so the entire scoreboard was reset. Inning number eleven would be recorded as inning number one. Even more fans left the stadium. Would the Red Sox be able to keep the Orioles from scoring in yet another inning? The first two Orioles players struck out, and the third grounded out to second. Hope swelled in my heart! However, the Red Sox did not even get on base in the bottom of the eleventh.

Waiting to Win

The Baltimore Orioles, who have been almost unbeatable this season when a game goes into extra innings, were simply waiting for their opportunity to win. Opportunity knocked in the top of the twelfth inning, and the Orioles answered with three runs. The Red Sox could not return the answer in the bottom of the twelfth. I left Fenway disappointed for the loss, but inspired by observing what it takes to win in the twelfth inning.

In life and in our journeys of faith, sometimes the game goes into extra innings. We experience delays and unexpected outcomes. Extra innings can breed doubt. Not all our fans will stand with us, although watching the faithful ones keep cheering delivers great joy. Winning in extra innings requires perseverance and quiet confidence to wait for the right opportunity. Winning in our spiritual lives requires living with unanswered questions, trusting when we cannot understand, and finishing the journey we started. Only runs count. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

* The Boston Red Sox won the game the following day at the top of the ninth inning.

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Faith Leaves Room for Questions (A Guest Post)

Have you ever had a serious faith-related question, but were afraid to ask it? Many Christians have their curiosity kick in, while at other times, the way something was explained raises more questions. Do you dare ask it? Do you raise a question that deals with a matter of…faith?

 

I had the privilege of growing up in a family where I could always ask questions, even questions that were related to faith. Admittedly, some of the questions asked made heads turn (no wonder I’m now a Ph.D. student in Theology); other questions led to answers of “I don’t know.” In either situation, this provided the opportunity to read, study, and journey together in a process of discovery. Questions concerning the age of the Earth, the eternal state of those who never hear the Gospel, and from where the spouses of Adam and Eve’s children came all serve as samples of the many questions on the minds of people of faith—questions that many are afraid to ask.

 

Admittedly, some will argue that such questions are a source of weak faith or a lack of genuine faith. I strongly disagree. If anything, these questions stem from a heart seeking to learn more about the God they serve and the world in which they live. Just as I remember being told, “I don’t know.” I also remember, “…but we can study together and see if we can find some answers.” That attitude has aided me in understanding the importance of asking questions. So from where does the fear of some come? Some fear that the Bible (the written standard of their faith) might be proven wrong or that their entire faith is wrong because they come to understand that one thing they believed was incorrect. I can say that my thoughts have changed on some issues, and I find this experience has actually strengthened my faith.

 

I encourage you to ask your questions and grow in your faith. God is big enough for your questions. He isn’t afraid of them; you shouldn’t be either. If you choose to ask some of the “hard” questions of faith and explore them with others, there is no guarantee or requirement that you all come to the exact same conclusion. That is okay. The beauty of faith is that we can have unity on the essentials, liberty on the non-essentials, and love in all things. Remember to remain humble on this journey and be open to the thoughts of others.

As a final note, be warned that there are some things for which you will not obtain a solid answer. Use these opportunities to embrace the mystery of the God of the universe. I mean, if you could really figure out everything concerning God—an omnipotent, eternal being—he wouldn’t really be God, now would he?

Dan Morrison is enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy program at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, ON. When Dan is not reading or doing research, you can usually find him working out at the gym.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • God is big enough for your questions. He isn’t afraid of them; you shouldn’t be either.  Buffer
  • The beauty of faith is that we can have unity on the essentials, liberty on the non-essentials, and...  Buffer
  • If you could really figure out everything concerning God—an omnipotent, eternal being—he...  Buffer