Have you heard of Pastor Scott Taylor? No? Haven’t read any of his books, heard his amazing session at T4G, or followed him on Twitter? No, I suppose not. Because as far as I know he hasn’t written a book, spoken at a major conference, and doesn’t even have a Twitter account. But he is a real pastor in a little state, in a little town, of a little church, for regular people.
Pastor, does that sound little? Does it sound boring? Does it sound like the pit you are living in? Does it make you feel tired? Discouraged?
After all, the seasons come and the seasons go. Children are born, teenagers text too much, young adults make foolish decisions, new parents enter the precipice of the normal life, couples face divorce, the middle class anxiously fights to make ends meet, the elderly age (and go to the hospital a lot), people talk way too much about the weather and politics, people give you way too many stupid books to read, the new convert wants to take over the town for Jesus, and occasionally people die.
My imagination makes me wonder if it goes something like this: there is a maddening eeriness to it all. The quietness and predictability of the rhythm causes a secret despair inside your chest. The despair causes a cycle of steps down in descending stages of crisis – you begin to fantasize about the way things could be. Then you start to worry that things will never change. This only makes you protective and fearful that everybody has it figured out but you. The loneliness and perceived failure give birth to the last and most devastating step down: a quiet resignation that this obscurity and bleakness is to be your constant companion, pushing you toward the obscurity of a wasted life. Your mind spins: “Should I quit or live in misery?” Then it finally happens: you grit your teeth at God. You have become Job in the madness of the little and the mundane.
What is God doing? Consider this: the despair is a tool God is using to show you something that will change everything – that the Jesus you preach every Sunday really is all-sufficient. This is exactly the point God has been pasturing you for and tenderly leading you toward, not to hurt you, but because in this suffering you will finally know the fellowship of knowing Christ in his sufferings and making him your source of contentment.
If this is true, what is the answer? The only answer is to give Jesus your dreams of the pastorate, let him kill the discontentment they cause, and replace them with supernatural, jaw dropping, other-worldly communion with the triune God. He is using the despair to do something incredibly wondrous and gracious. Through these providential tools, He is tenderly training and rebuilding your heart to find your contentment solely in His gracious love and affection for you, not some clownish fantasy that you have imagined will bring you contentment. He is healing you of you.
[To Be Continued]