THIS sounds like it feels to me right now – a dark piece, this. But real. And I know many will ignore it. You should. You would not make the decisions you need to make if you didn’t.
Marriage, in the majority of cases, requires more from us than we expect it will. We make our promises flippantly, thinking they’ll be easy to keep, because there’s just so much love between us. Then over time the rub of life sands off our enthusiasm. We come to rue our idealism. But there is a purpose in it. God wants us to face up to the reality of love. It’s a choice.
Ministry, likewise, in most circumstances, feels a very romantic endeavor. We fall in love with the thought of leading and serving others – the magnanimity of it all (and not that many would admit it, but the power attracts us, too). Those who have gone before us try to warn us of the perils, but we’re too infused in our egos to see them. Over the years we get burned. Not just once. In different ways that highlight our weaknesses. It’s inevitable. Iron sharpening iron, and the processes of our maturing through the rough and tumble of raw humanity pretending to be pious. Again, we come to deplore our naivety. But there is a purpose in it, God making something out of the ordure. God wants us to understand that if it cost His Son His life, it will cost us ours (metaphorically), too. Finally, having endured hell, having learned many cruel and harsh lessons, we’re brought before the choice, afresh. And for the first time ever, we make our choice empowered and informed.
Life is no different. All through our formative years we fall for the lie that when we’re grown up we will finally have control of our lives; we’ll be able to do what we want. Isn’t it an unforgiving lesson when we find out the responsibilities we bear? Suddenly all we had secretly believed our whole lives until that point unravels, a disheveled mess on the floor. In all reality it takes us years to finally accept this; to understand we have to take responsibility for our lives if they are to work. By this stage we’re into our thirties, and certainly by thirty-five we reckon it was a lie – life is no longer something we believe we can master. But this is good. So good. God can do nothing with us or for us if we’re in a state of thinking we’re in control.
Marriage, ministry, life, and any significant endeavor, will cost us more than we think. If we ever knew what it would cost us we wouldn’t commit in the first place. Thankfully, in our naïve drive to forge our own path, we don’t trust the advice of those who know better. It is this way generation after generation.
Steve Wickham is a pastor and writer holds degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counseling.