Five years ago, when I left full-time ministry and began working again in the secular world, I don’t really know that I anticipated what I was in for. I’ve worked a number of jobs since then, some of which I hated every moment of, others of which were bearable, and others of which I truly felt sad when my season of work there was over. My heart has never stopped yearning to be back in full-time ministry, but on most days I feel like I’m living out Acts 18:1-3.
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together–by trade they were tentmakers.
On my worst days, when I would come home from a job that was paying the bills but felt like it was crushing my soul, my wonderful wife would take one look at me and see how much I was hurting. Sweetly she would say to me, “It’s going to be a beautiful tent.” While I’ve always appreciated her efforts to try and cheer me up and put things in perspective, I don’t always believe that “the tent” is going to be anything resembling beautiful. I believe it will be large — because I’ve spent so long on it. But on most days, it seems to me that it’s going to be more functional than beautiful, and likely to be stained with dirt and blood and sweat.
I do what I must for us as a couple, and I must provide housing and food and other essentials. I am grateful daily that God has provided these things. Yet I have to admit that I struggle mightily with spiritual dryness and discouragement. I am called to be a pastor, I am in the process of my studies for ordination, and yet … and yet it sometimes seems as if the goalposts never get closer. I want to be faithful, I want to bear into the words of the prophet Isaiah:
those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Have you ever struggled, caught between the knowledge of what God wants for you, and the reality of your present location on the journey towards that place?