Saturday, April 5, 2014

Finding My Gap

Saturdays are our lazy days, and today was exactly that.  However, it's also our church day, and we went to the 5:30 service at Grace Community Church.  Pastor Mark had a great message, and it had me thinking quite a bit afterwards.  But before I get to that, I wanted to mention that my daughter and I returned to Eggspectation tonight for dinner.  It's our second trip to the restaurant in Ellicott City this week.  While my daughter got the same meal as last time (chocolate chip pancakes), I tried the Cuban sandwich, and it was excellent!  But the real highlight was when the manager came to our table.  It turns out he's the son of a couple that I've known for almost 15 years.  I didn't recognize him at first, since he's all grown up, but it was great to see him, and I'm glad he stopped our table.  After chatting a few minutes, he gave us a discount on our check, which he didn't have to do.  It was really kind of him to do, and I really appreciate the gesture.  If you're ever at Eggspectation, make sure you say hello to Justin.  And Mark & Sonya, you've raised a great young man!

Now, let's go back to Pastor Mark's message tonight.  The key verse is from Ezekiel 22:30, "I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one."  Who's going to fill the gap?  Mark told the story of a young person he was talking to recently who said he was going to take a "gap year" after finishing college, before deciding on a career.  As someone who is well past the age where he could do that, Being able to do something like that would be awesome.  However, that's not going to happen, and it's not what is referred to in that verse.  What is necessary is whether I can fill in that gap where I'm needed.  Whether that's in service at my church, or wherever, we should all be looking at where we can fill in the gaps.

I gave this a lot of thought after the service.  I've been struggling to find my place at Grace for a while now.  My wife, Teresa, and I began attending Grace in 2003, shortly before our daughter was born.  This was after a tumultuous final year at our previous church.  My wife had spent most of her teen and adult years attending that church, along with her parents, and they were pretty well entrenched there.  Her father taught a Sunday morning Bible study, and her mother was the pastor's executive assistant.  After we were married, Teresa and I led the drama team ministry.  We greatly enjoyed it, though it was a lot of work, but we felt like that was where God was calling us to be.

In 2002, the pastor at our church was caught up in some financial improprieties and was asked to resign, and during the transition, there was a shake up in the staff.  My in-laws got caught up in the mess, and as a result, we elected to leave the church.  We were not happy with the way things turned out, and leaving was disappointing, but there was a silver lining, and I can't help but feel that God was leading us in that moment.  We found a new church home, much closer to where we lived, and it was  well-connected to our community.  Grace was that church.

We were pretty burned out after five years of intense involvement in our previous church, and it was kind of nice to be able to just attend without the commitments we had previously.  After our daughter was born, it was even more appreciated, as those of you with children can imagine how those early days of parenthood can be.  Several months later, Teresa was ready to return to drama ministry, and she began to get involved.  I wasn't quite ready.  A few months later, though, Teresa passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving me and our infant daughter.  It took a long time for me to recover, and I still struggle with her death.  It was a horrible loss for me.  You never get over something like that.  I'm so thankful for the support Grace provided at that time.

Within a few years, I felt well enough to become involved in the drama ministry at Grace, and I was honored to serve in several sketches on Sunday mornings during the services and on Christmas Eve.  More recently, however, the church stopped doing live drama during the services, so I'm not sure where I fit in.  Complicating things, if you want to call it that, is the fact that being a single parent makes it difficult to get involved like I want to.  Child care is hard to schedule, so I find myself unable to balance things.

I think my future will be with youth ministry.  I spent over ten years as a youth counselor in my late teens and twenties, and wrestled at the time with whether to go into ministry as a youth pastor.  My fledgling federal government career was starting to take off at the time, and I decided that's where my future would be.  But, with my daughter ready to begin middle high in a little over a year, I may find myself back in saddle again in youth ministry.  I'll follow wherever the Lord leads me, but that may be my gap.

Right now, I feel Him leading me towards the bed.  It's late and well past my awake-time.  So I'm wrapping this up.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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