On a More Personal Note…

It’s been a month since my last day of pastoring in Southern California.   A month since I joined my family on the road.  Rootless for the moment, making our way across the country and a panoply of friends and family.  After a two-week sojourn in Arizona, we’ve been through seven states and stayed in five different homes.  On Friday, the statistics bump up to nine states and six different homes. 

It’s not totally a foreign experience.  We’re known for taking long-ranging, month-long trips to see the people God has blessed our lives with.  The difference this time is that normally by now, we’d be home or headed home.  This time, there’s no home to head to yet.  And no telling when there will be.  The economic recession that has affected so many people is not unknown to the realm of ministry.  People are hurting all over, and we hear stories of it everywhere we go.  We see the closed shops as we drive down once-familiar streets.  Constant reminders of how richly the Lord has blessed our family in the midst of all this uncertainty.

So in this week when I turned 41, developed a head cold, anguished over the right decision to make in terms of accommodations for my family outside of Washington D.C., and face more decisions in the coming weeks, it can be a bit…overwhelming.  I’m assuming that at some point, I’ll transition into this new mode of being and some of that angst will dissipate.  In the meantime I’m grateful for the blessing of my family – who loves me and puts up with me even when I’m grumpy.

The challenge I know I’ll have to face is staying the course when necessary, as opposed to diverting us into the first port in the storm.  Faith and trust in an all-knowing God is all well and good until there really isn’t anything else tangible to lean on, and then it gets pretty disconcerting pretty quickly.  The important thing would seem to be to stay focused, take deep breaths, and exhale them regularly.  To take this chance to enjoy the downtime with my kids and wife.  To actually develop some guitar skills.  To keep reading.  To keep thinking and writing.  To exercise more.  To continue moving towards the me I want to be but always have excuses for not being. 

I’m sure all of that is enough to keep my brain and body busy enough to not get worked up over what tomorrow will or won’t bring, or what May will or won’t bring.  It’s not so much that I worry that God won’t provide.  It’s just that more and more I realize how deeply I need and want to know what’s coming.  In my quest for uber-competency, I find that not being able to accomplish what I set out to do is deeply irritating.  I realize how much of me is wrapped up in my ability to make things happen, to figure out solutions, to come to the rescue.  It’s so much easier to preach faith and trust when you have your own ducks in a row and there isn’t much need to listen to your own preaching. 

But God is good – always.  Even when the future is uncertain to me.  Even when He has to work a little extra on kneading and molding one of His more dare I say obdurate subjects into a form better able to receive, to give, to serve, to embody, to encourage.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:34)

2 Responses to “On a More Personal Note…”

  1. Karen Clayton Says:

    We’ve both experienced some of this “leaning on God” not our own understanding this past month, haven’t we, Paul. But I am continually reminded that God is good. He has our best interests at heart, even when we don’t understand or aren’t even aware that He’s doing something. I know how hard it is to wait expectantly for Him and not hear anything. Hang in there, friend. You ‘know’ everything you need to know. Now God is seeing how good you are at “practicing what you preach.” Praying for strength and wisdom along the journey.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    Thanks Karen – although compared with what your family has been going through, our situation is so trivial.  How is Nicole?  Finally home from the hospital?  You & your family remain in my prayers for strength & healing.

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