Scripture calls us not to be ‘double-minded.” James tells us that when we are we’re unstable in all our ways. (James 1:7-8) At the same time Paul bounces back and forth between conviction and joy in Romans 7:21-24.
These days I find myself caught between two poles. We have agreed to leave where we are and serve in a new place, but we are not there yet. I must confess that sometimes I feel very divided or ‘double-minded.’ On one hand there is the sorrow of contemplating relationships that have been rich and enriching for us. We have the sense that God has indeed inhabited some of our relationships and we and they have benefitted and we have grown as followers of Jesus. That feels good. At the same time, contemplating departure also produces pain. There is the pain of pulling up roots. There is also pain of becoming more distant in what have felt like very close relationships. We grieve for those relationships. As our home becomes filled with boxes and the pieces of our lives get put away, there is a certain instability that creeps in. Sometimes I wonder if this part of our life will disappear just like things that are disappearing into boxes. Because of the great people we have met here and shared life with, we don’t want that to happen.
There are also things we have not yet gotten to. Those things seem ‘left undone.’ That doesn’t feel good. In ministry, especially interim ministry, one chooses what one will work on as well as those we do not. Isn’t that true of all of life? We cannot do everything. We must make choices. Sometimes there are regrets and other times we feel good about what we have been able to accomplish. Given the time we’ve had here, I am satisfied—but I’d still prefer to have gotten to a few more things.
At the same time, we look forward to our new calling. We believe that we will be able to add something to the church where we are going. It is almost eerie to see how our life experiences have prepared us for this opportunity. Reggie McNeal in his book, A Work of Heart, suggests that if we really see how big God is, we will understand that we are being prepared for things we cannot even imagine. He takes several Bible leaders whose life experiences all prepared them for the place that God had for them to ultimately serve. He reminds us that the God of the universe is quietly creating a masterpiece of each life and He is silently at work—even if we do not see the plans.
We have already met some wonderful people who we look forward to getting to know more deeply. The new challenge stretches out before us and that excites us. So we find ourselves caught between two different realities. We bounce back and forth between saying “Good bye” and preparing to say “Hello.” That is a good thing. Like Paul in Romans who says he’s caught between the despair of being lost in sin and the joy of knowing Christ died for us, we seem to have a foot in both camps. We hope that this challenging dichotomy will not make us ’unstable in all our ways,” but will remind us of our utter need to depend on Christ to work through us and prepare us for this next part of the journey, giving deep and sincere thanks for what has gone on before.
Dear Rev. Russ: I have not had the pleasure of meeting your wife; but you talk about her all the time and through the grapevine I hear some of her moments from friends she has made here. I have learned a lot, and for this I am thankful. I will try to be open minded for our church future. In the meantime, I wish you God speed and hope that you might eventually retire to Naples. In Christian love,
Heidi Stryker P S I read “Kisses from Katie” – it touched me deeply.
Thanks so much. We feel blessed to have been here and will keep this church in our prayers.