Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lessons from the Sabbatical--October 2, 2013

I have trust issues.
Trey and I are part of a small group that meets once a week. It is comprised of people who attend our church. Just 8 people total—and a crowd of children who typically play together in another room. This group just started meeting together a month ago, and I love the people in it.
Tonight, Trey and I got to be guinea pigs of sorts when it came to developing group trust. Whenever you have a small group starting out, trust between the members is vital. The group can only grow when trust is there.
One person stated that it might be a good idea for the group to talk about our sudden decision to go on Sabbatical. Yes, it was a quick decision. It caught us by surprise as well. But members of our group wanted to know why we didn’t come to them with our stress beforehand. I guess I could say that I had barely acknowledged my own stress in ministry until this point.
That aside, this whole question-and-answer time brought to the surface my own problems with trusting others. Having been in ministry for so long and having grown up in a minister’s home, I have seen hurt come from people within the church. Over time, you build up a barrier of sorts to keep people away from the deepest parts of you, because dealing with personal hurt that comes from misplaced trust on top of all the other things you deal with is really just too much.
Or is it?
I sometimes forget that someone has already experienced this level of hurt and lived to tell about it. It would be easy for me to insert an example of Jesus here, but that’s too obvious, so we’ll go instead to Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, chapter 4, Paul is calling by name those who have abandoned him and those who have betrayed his trust. If I were Paul, I’d spend the rest of my letter fuming my state and swearing off all ties with humanity from this point on. It’s just easier that way, not having to deal with the shortcomings of people (myself included).
But Paul does not choose this course of action. In verse 17, he says something so poignant, so unlike my walled-off heart. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me….” Paul chose not to look at his hurt, but rather to look at his God. And it is from God that he is given the strength to continue on in his commission.
I do not think there is one person currently attending our church who honestly doesn’t love and care for me and Trey. However, that stops at head knowledge for me. I don’t allow it to transfer to my heart, for that rips at the carefully constructed barrier around my heart. But now that I’ve met Paul in 2 Timothy 4:17, I’m going to start looking to God for the strength to tear down the wall I’ve constructed brick by brick. And maybe then my heart will be more fully open to trusting others.
So today’s lesson in a nutshell: Work on that wall around your heart. Look to God for the strength to move forward in your calling when it seems like your trust has been misused. He’s standing with you.

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