it's hard to get around the wind

I attended a meeting at my home church while in town last week and all of the parents in the meeting corresponded with moments in my first few years of ministry experience.
Two sets of parents whose kids I taught in Sunday School when I was a teenager.
A handful of sets of parents whose kids were in the 5th and 6th grade program that I ran in my first internship.
One parent who fit in both the above and had a daughter I was in youth group with.
Before the meeting started one parent gave me a huge hug and said to me, “My son still has hanging in his room a note that you wrote him when you left here and every time I see it I think about you and wonder how you’re doing.”  She asked where I was and I filled her in on the details.
But her statement kind of stuck to me.  Her son was in 6th grade when I left.  He was a staple at our gatherings with his best friend but was really shy and rarely talked to me.  I never would imagine that he would still have that little note I wrote him all these years later.  Now he’s a junior in high school. still a staple in their youth group, sings on their worship team.  Like most my former students I get to see his life unfold via Facebook posts of our mutual friends.
In ministry, there are no guarantees.  There are days filled with heart bursting joy, there are days filled with heart breaking sorry.  And there are days that fit squarely in between those two extremes.
But some days you get the exact reminder you need that you’re still called to walk this journey with people when those days come you thank the Lord for his provision and strength.

quit these pretentious thoughts and just punch the clock

There’s a quote from 30 Rock that has been rolling around my head for the past week.  Jack’s boss says to him, “You’re in the rough Jack, you got to get back on the fairway.”
Sometimes I get in these modes when stuff gets tough.  I just tell myself to put my head down and get to work.  And then I do just that, I put my head down, get the job done and when it’s over I look up and realize I have no idea where I am.
You’re in the rough, Jack.  You got to get back on the fairway
I’ve never played golf but I know the difference between the rough and the fairway.  I picture Jack in the rough, trying desperately to hit his ball out from behind trees, thick grass and weeds.  Swing after swing, just using up his energy and hoping for that one good hit that will chip the ball back to the plush green of the fairway grass.  The carefully manicured lawn where the golf ball is meant to be.  To get back to where he feels in control of the situation.
I can imagine the frustration of someone pointing out to him that he’s in the rough.  That where he currently stands swinging is not where he is meant to be.  He knows it, you don’t have to point it out to him.  He knows where the ball is supposed to go, and he’s got to figure out how to get it back there.
I looked up recently.  Pulled my head out of the work and took a look around.  Thick grass – check.  Weeds – check.  Trees blocking my view – check.  A few wrong turns, misguided hits and suddenly I’ve landed myself right in the middle of the rough.
I’ve lost it.  The momentum that got me here, which is maybe a good thing because here is not where I’m meant to be.  Here is not good.  Here is not the life intended for me.  But I got here.  I chose the wrong club, didn’t square my hips, just swung wildly and landed myself here, in the rough.
Luckily for me, each day is brand new.  Each morning the sun rises and God’s riches and mercies are renewed for me.  The fairway’s out there and by the grace of God I’ll get back out there.  Because He is strong when I am weak.