Just Enough Light

I confessed to the guys at our accountability meeting on Sunday that one of the points of anxiety that still lingers since leaving professional ministry is that I am one year shy of 40 and without any hint of a career…. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go.

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I confessed to the guys at our accountability meeting on Sunday that one of the points of anxiety that still lingers since leaving professional ministry is that I am one year shy of 40 and without any hint of a career. I tend to be a focused individual. So when I received what I felt was a calling into professional ministry years ago, I pursued it with everything I had. I envisioned myself as a pastor for the rest of my working life.

But now, I feel I am answering a new call not to be in professional ministry. And I honestly don’t know if this is a temporary or permanent thing. Now almost three years since leaving professional ministry, I still have no idea if this is short-term, long-term or permanent. Until recently, the unknown has caused weekly bouts of mild depression and an internal compulsion to get back into ministry. But toward the end of last year, I discovered that both ailments are gone.

I guess I’m learning how to be a bit more content with where I am. That has meant putting forth a lot of effort into learning how to trust God with such a huge unknown in my life. So when I read a quote by Henri Nouwen this afternoon, I realized this is exactly where I’ve needed to grow and in fact am growing:

“Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, ‘How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?’ There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.”

So this year, I am planning on learning what Nouwen calls “the art of living” — enjoying what I can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. I’m going to enjoy my wife, kids and friends more this year. I’m going to enjoy both my precious faith-community and my frequent excursions into the established church. I’m going to enjoy my friends and role at work. I’m going to enjoy my wedding video partnership, especially the new people I will meet and the new opportunities for creative expression it will offer me. And I will enjoy creating a lot more this year through music, writing, photo and video.

I think I’m through feeling like I’m in survival mode and will finally get on with learning how to live and minister in deeper and more authentic ways.

God has given me just enough light. And I’m learning it truly is enough to enjoy life.

7 thoughts on “Just Enough Light

  1. Hi Babe,
    I enjoyed your post and I enjoy the path that God is taking you down. Thank you for being willing to grow so much. I am excited for you to start your new creative hobbies. I hope it will be a source of great enjoyment for you.
    (Nice picture of you on the blog! Who took it?)

    I have one question about this beam of light thing. What do we do when the beam of light is shining right on a pile of camel droppings? My first reaction is to go around that stuff…but if that is what the light is shining on…You gotta go through it…Right? Does that even happen? Or, does the light just go out for a moment so we don’t see the doo doo? Or do we step in the “doo doo” because we refuse to step in the light? Well, I have to go and clean my shoes now. Too bad about that.

  2. Hi Deb,
    Thanks for your comment. I’m enjoying this path with you in many ways.

    Regarding your question about Nouwen’s quote on the beam of light revealing the crap (there I said it!) in front of us: I think I’ll let him answer it with another one of his quotes:

    “To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”

    I think what Nouwen is saying is that we live in a damaged world. Yet, although damaged, God hasn’t withdrawn, but is always present. He’s present in the good and the bad. Therefore, even the moments of sorrow and failure can still be opportunities where we can be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

    Love you, Babe!

  3. Jason,
    I’m intriqued & encouraged with your journey…it sounds strikingly familiar to mine. A year away from 40 & no “real” plans…only a past of “ministry success”. Your thoughts here are comforting even in the uncertainty.
    “Who can tell today for what God is preparing us? So often we murmur at the narrow round of daily duty. So often we think we are worthy of something bigger. Our little sphere of service seems so inadequate and so unworthy. But I want to say to you that every hour of it is essential if God would make you a man he can use.”

    Alan Redpath “Victorious Christian Living”

    Peace & keep walking in the light,
    d.

  4. Daniel, Thanks for the very encouraging words. You’re right — if God can make me a man he can use, then everything (and more) is well worth it. Blessings to you.

    Jason

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