I didn’t want to go.
It is 7:45 pm. The service started at 7:15, so I am sure to have missed some of it anyway. What is the point in showing up 30 minutes late? Plus, I am exhausted, I have been in the nursery for 3 solid days and I could use this night off to simply sleep, right? I should just go back to my cabin and do just that.
Those were the thoughts I had. But I didn’t skip it. I went to the service anyway. Sat through. Had a couple chuckles. Took a couple good notes. Thought, “Oh, that’s a good point.” Had a couple more points resonate.
Until close to the end. The last point.
“Salt causes pain.”
The speaker Susie Shellenberger went on to describe the pain we as Christians can cause other people. The “salt” we can toss onto the wounds of others.
Gossip. Criticism. Envy. Jealousy. Lack of encouragement. Sabotage. I had participated in some, and I had been a victim to all.
Yes. Pastors are not immune to hurt. Pain. We have deep wounds that others throw salt on from time to time. But if that wasn’t the one piece of confirmation that was making me shake in my seat, it was what she said next that sealed it for me.
She described a worship leader that ministered under King David, Asaph. Asaph was gifted. Talented. He could perform beautiful music, and he was on fire for God, but somewhere along the way he began to fall into the comparison trap, and questioned whether it was better just to give up. Questioned what ministry was all for.
Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain. If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Psalm 73:13-16
I felt that. All of it.
Salt causes pain. We throw salt on already gaping wounds, and I had been an entree filled with salt-laden spots. I had endured criticism because I didn’t do things the “way they were done before.” Because I wasn’t like the person who came before me. On my job my work had been sabotaged because I was too loving, and kids liked me. Really…what it boiled down to? Good, old-fashioned, mean girl envy. A very hurtful kind. The kind that leaves you feeling depleted and defeated. I thought I had found my calling in ministry, but apparently people had other ideas.
I wanted to give up. I saw no purpose in continuing to minister. What was God’s purpose in it all. If loving people was too much for some, and made people hate me? If being called meant criticism, comparison, or an ache that I was never going to measure up to the standards of some, then why keep going? This isn’t what I signed up for. I should be happy. Not constantly worrying if I was good enough.
Or left wondering if He had just passed me over.
I was Asaph. I was tired of seeing everyone prosper, and feeling like I was seeing no fruit, and being completely taken advantage of, or not seen for my heart.
I didn’t want to come to this service.
And I definitely didn’t want to do what happened next.
Susie asked for anyone who had been hurt, or had salt thrown into wounds to raise their hands. I did. My act of obedience. No one would see me raise my hand. Quick. Put it up. Put it back down. God will see. I can get it over with. Be right with Him.
But then I felt it. That shaking again. That shaking that meant uncontrollable tears were about to flow and I knew I was not going to be able to stay in my seat.
God, please. I raised my hand. I obeyed. I really don’t need to go to the altar.
But His response?
Yes. Yes you do. You need to go and lay those hurts down at my feet. Lay all that has been said and done down, and pick up what I have for you, and only you.
So I did.
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:23-26
I was Asaph.
I didn’t want to even go to that service. And I know if Satan had has his way, I would have been in my cabin sleeping.
But I did.
And I can’t say I know today what God wants from me. What God is asking me to do. I still grieve for things I can’t see. And there are still things I know I may never understand.
But I know the battle is His. Every single part of it. All the parts that may seem scary and uncertain to me. All the parts that make me angry and bitter. All the parts that are still wounds that need healing.
It’s His. And He will fight until the end for me.
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