I recently attended a conference, well, actually, not a conference, but a council, the annual council for the Illinois District of Assemblies of God churches. I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that they have been posted specifically to fulfill requirements for certain classes. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned that the reason for those classes is that I’m pursuing credentials to become a pastor within the Assemblies of God.
Those words still rather scare me. It was never, and I mean capital N, NEVER, my plan to be a pastor. My plan was either to pitch for the Cubs (until recently, they couldn’t have done any worse with me than they were doing without me. But this is our year! Go Cubs!!), or join the Army. When the military fell by the wayside, hearing issues preventing me from fulfilling that plan, I decided to get a degree, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with emphasis in international relations and a minor in Military Science. (Yes, that Army dream died hard. But I got to take the ROTC classes at Northern Illinois University, wore the uniform proudly, and “served” three years in my small capacity.)
And then I drifted. What do you do when all your dreams, from early childhood, crash to the ground and you realize you have NO idea where to go or what to do. I had nothing. Sure, I’ve got a piece of paper that says I finished college. I’m the only one of my generation to do that in my family. And what do I have to show for it? I’ve got a piece of paper.
So I drifted, and I drank, and I drugged, and then drifted some more. I drifted from job to job. I drifted from home to apartment to home again. (Yes, Mom and Dad called my yo-yo.) Just like a boat drifts without an anchor, so I drifted.
And then, I found the anchor, Jesus. My life began to settle down. I got a job. (Been there over 10 years now.) I bought a home. (Six and a half years for that!) And settled into my new life. But those of you who’ve been boating know, if the current is strong, or if it’s windy and you’ve been drifting quickly, sometimes it takes a while for the anchor to grab the bottom. It may b down, but sometimes that anchor just drags across the bottom. Your momentum may slow, but you are still drifting. And that is how I fely, anchor out, tied to Jesus, but the current of the world still dragging me along.
And over the course of this last year, still drifting slowly in the current, dragging the anchor of Jesus through the muck and mire of the bottom of the lake I’ve been on, I didn’t even notice that I was also starting to let the rope pull through my hands. I was losing my grip. As John Bevere, one of the keynote speakers at the council made reference to, I’d been so involved in my own thing, drifting, loosening my grip on the anchor, that when I looked up, I no longer recognized my surroundings. I drifted farther than I ever realized. And it seemed to happen on the blink of an eye. In reality, it’s built up over time. But I allowed myself to become so distracted, it seemed as if just a moment went by.
I’m getting myself back on track, I’ve tightened my grip on the anchor rope again, and I’m beginning to pull in some of that rope that slipped through my hands. And even more important than that, through the speakers at this council, and more so than that, by my focus getting locked back on Jesus, laser sharp and ready to go, the anchor is set. Actually, it’s always been set. The anchor is ALWAYS the anchor. It never changes. What we do with, or to it, is what causes us to drift. But the anchor of Jesus will never be moved.
So I’m back to my study schedule, and I’ll finish up my classes, and I’ll become a pastor. That still sounds so strange to my ears. But if I look at my classes as training, homework and Bible Study as PT (physical training), if I shift my thinking, I’m actually, finally fulfilling my dream of being in the Army.
I have decided to follow Jesus, and I’m a soldier in His Army. No turning back. NO TURNING BACK!
I wrote this about two weeks ago, not publishing it right away, but just letting it stew for a little while. I love how God uses that stewing process to bring other things to light. As I was reading yesterday, for one of my classes, I encountered this from the author:
“The writer of Hebrews said, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). Drifting takes no conscious effort or strategy. The currents and winds of social trends and fads, in the church as well as in the world, are always in motion.” (Hurst, Randy; The Local Church in Evangelism, 3rd ed.; pg 155)
Isn’t it just amazing how God can pull things together from seemingly unrelated places, yet they suddenly appear as a beautiful piece of art, and you think, “Well, of course this all goes together.” So, this, along with the posts in the coming weeks, and continuing on, will be my project for this class. (Thanks Papa!)