Don’t Get Stuck
Recently I was taking a walk with my husband when I noticed a walnut that was lodged in between two big tree trunks. I couldn’t help but wonder if it just fell into that spot, or if someone purposely placed it there. I know this may sound farfetched, but It made me think about my responsibility as a Christian. Something as simple as a walnut made me ask myself – Am I allowing God to use me to reach others for Christ, or have I purposely placed myself in ‘hiding’? Am I settling for a comfortable spot in my church, in my family, and tucked safely within my circle of friends?
My husband and I were in the ministry from the time we got married – 30 years ago, until we stepped away from it all – a few years ago. He was in the youth ministry for many years, then was a senior pastor for a small, country church for 14 years. We both knew the Lord was telling us it was time for a change, but it wasn’t clear what he wanted us to do next. Unlike the stories you often hear from people who have done the same, we didn’t have a horrible experience in the church that made us run, nor were we asked to leave; God simply made it clear that it was time – so that’s what we did.
Resigning from the church we served at was the easiest part of our journey; however, letting go and moving on was very difficult. Those people were like family. We had spent countless hours together over the years- praying, crying, mourning, laughing, cooking, teaching, celebrating, and serving. You name it, we did it.
After that final Sunday at our church, I remember very vividly when my husband looked at me and asked “So, where do you want to go next Sunday?” He told me that it was my turn to make that decision. My answer was Northview. We were always involved in small churches – which we loved, but I thought this would be the perfect time to visit something completely opposite.
I will never forget that first Sunday when we visited Northview’s Carmel Campus. We thought we would walk in unnoticed and simply enjoy that time of worship without any responsibilities. God had a different plan. We had just sat down when Pastor Steve walked up to greet us. He mentioned that he didn’t recall meeting us before, and within a few minutes we shared our story about being in the ministry, stepping down, and basically feeling empty. He encouraged us to sit back and ‘take it all in’. What were the chances that he would stop to talk to us that day?! Exactly one year later – no exaggeration, he walked up to us again, only this time he asked us if we had plugged in somewhere – become involved. Once again, another ‘aha’ moment. Since that time, we have slowly become involved in ‘ministry’ again. One thing I’ve learned is this: If you are a Christian, then you are in the ministry – no matter where you are – forever.
So, how does a walnut fit into this story? We all know that it has a purpose, but how can it possibly be of any good when it’s tucked away safely – for good? Friends, what are you doing for the Lord? Are you allowing him to use you to reach the lost or to encourage others? If you’ve experienced burnout as I did, I believe a little break is good, but don’t allow the enemy to keep you from fulfilling God’s plan. Be encouraged! When you are tricked by the enemy into thinking that no one needs you, remember this – God NEEDS YOU!
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9