Prepare to be Stretched

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A long time ago, I almost went to Azusa Pacific University. Finances fell through, reality set in, and I ended with a time where I felt lost. I had just walked away from my first job that I worked at for five years. Life felt unstable. I remember a marketing photo from Azusa that featured a ball of rubberbands. The tagline below the ball was, “Prepare to be stretched.”

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Growth is oftentimes not comfortable. Growth can be painful.

Some eleven years later, I feel lost once again. Caught in some sort of cyclical orbit that I cannot break free from. Since college graduation, Fall 2006, I have been trying to get my bearings. Part of that could be cultural, I live in Texas now versus my native California. Things are different here. The other part of that was thinking that God had called me to be a pastor. I had thought that I would go to seminary after college. First seminary I applied at told me I had too much student debt. The second seminary, which accepted me debt and all, was not to be. As I got ready to select my first classes, we ended up pregnant with my son. Any money for schooling vanished.

Where does one go with the path changes? How does one adapt?

I work as an Office Manager by day. Not the first job I would choose for myself, but I do enjoy the work when we are busy. In my eighth year now, I have no room for growth. I feel trapped.

I find myself wondering what that next step is. Where is God calling me to be? I find myself questioning my faith. I know all the right Christian answers, there is just a head-to-heart disconnect.

God constantly reminds me that He is working though. As waves threaten to sink me, He taps me on the shoulder and says, “hey man, I’ve got this.” I just need to believe it.

Discontent

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I saw this John Piper quote over at What’s Best Next and so I thought I’d share:

The Meaning of Your Discontent

Many of you should stay where you are in your present job, and simply ponder how you can fit your particular skills and relationships and resources more strategically into the global purposes of your heavenly Father.

But for others reading this book, it is going to be different. Many of you are simply not satisfied with what you are doing. As J. Campbell White said, the output of your lives is not satisfying your deepest spiritual ambitions.

We must be careful here. Every job has its discouragements and its seasons of darkness. We must not interpret such experiences automatically as a call to leave our post.

But if the discontent with your present situation is deep, recurrent, and lasting, and if that discontent grows in Bible-saturated soil, God may be calling you to a new work. If, in your discontent, you long to be holy, to walk pleasing to the Lord, and to magnify Christ with your one, brief life, then God may indeed be loosening your roots in order to transplant you to a place and a ministry where the deep spiritual ambitions of your soul can be satisfied.

It is true that God can be known and enjoyed in every legitimate vocation; but when he deploys you from one place to the next, he offers fresh and deeper drinking at the fountain of his fellowship. God seldom calls us to an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of his sustaining grace. . . .

Big issues are in the offing. May God help you. May God free you. May God give you a fresh, Christ-exalting vision for your life — whether you go to an unreached people or stay firmly and fruitfully at your present post. May your vision get its meaning from God’s great purpose to make the nations glad in him. May the cross of Christ be your only boast, and may you say, with sweet confidence, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. – Don’t Waste Your Life

In December of 2006, I graduated from college with no job lined up. After months and even years of praying over what I wanted to do with my life, I hadn’t a clue. In January of 2007, I married my Texas treasure, my wife Tabitha. Still, I hadn’t found a job. 9 months went by, still no job. I hunted and hunted, even took a position of a bank teller for a few weeks before landing my current position at an architectural firm.

Nearly 4 years later (hey, I’m stable!), I find myself in a position that has no hope of moving upwards…unless I become an architect. Through it all, I have continued to pray that God would show me what I need to do to move forward; through it all, I have remained thankful that I have a job that provides me a paycheck during the recession.

Rewind a second

Sometime into my college career, I decided to swap majors from English to History-Political Science. I had thought at the time that a history degree would make a great partnership with a pastoral degree. Upon graduation, I even applied to a seminary in Dallas. I received a reply soon after that told me to work on decreasing my school debt. Seemed fair enough.

As the years progressed, I have still felt called to seminary. However, the entire time I have also continued to have this argument in my head that says you don’t have to go to seminary in order to serve God. Heck, most pastors I knew from Southern California didn’t have a formal seminary education and they were amazing speakers. Seminary equals taking out more loans and becoming a further slave to the lender. That doesn’t make sense to me. God has quite clearly shown me that I need to work to pay off my debt AND that I can serve Him in the process.

Discontent

I have often wondered if God has kept me uneasy, kept me discontent in my workplace in order so that I don’t become comfortable. What I liked about the Piper quote, was that it calls on us to focus back on Christ. As a Christian, I should be primarily focused on how I can serve God. I have learned that God does not reveal things to us in huge chunks. Instead, God seems to show me just enough to keep moving forward. He is constantly teaching me how I have been uniquely gifted me to impact His world for His purpose. Seems like a life long process. I hope and pray that I do not become angry or bitter during this time of feeling unsettled. I know that God has a purpose, and I pray that I am willing and able to be a part of that bigger purpose.