Life is hard. Life in covenant community is sometimes even harder. It takes intentionality and sacrifice to love those God has placed in our lives. But what a great privilege it is and how beautiful it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity. We absolutely cannot sustain this type of care for one another on our own. Cultivating covenant relationships corporately is only successful by the sustaining grace of our gracious and loving God, who first demonstrated His love for us while we were still His enemies.
We live in a time when industries are constantly changing, technologies are rapidly developing, and skills are continually in need of sharpening. To stay current with the latest advancements, skills, and technologies in their fields, many professionals utilize (and many companies require) continuing education to help stay competitive, relevant, and effective. As a pastor to several professionals who are continuing education in their careers, I am aware that this pursuit is costly and is most often undertaken in the midst of an already full life, with real responsibilities and pressing demands. I look to the nurse who is administering a new medicine to my daughter and to the engineer using new technology to build a home for my friends, and say, “It is worth it…too much is at stake to not give yourself to continuing education!”
In the Gospel of Matthew, we find two stories from the life of Jesus which provide an instructive contrast between priorities and perspective. The first story is in chapter eight and begins with Jesus and his disciples in a boat, crossing an unnamed body of water. During the journey, a significant storm begins to rage, and water swamps the boat
As a pastor of a local church there is a consistent spiritual, emotional, and even physical need that seems to come across my “desk” (email, Facebook, etc.) at a pace faster than I can keep up with.
Sin breaks in and causes hurting marriages and hurting parents. Suffering breaks in and fills the church with the horrors of disease, disability, and chronic pain. Sin and suffering conspire to cause deep anxiety, fear, and sadness. In addition, one of the biggest struggles for a pastor (despite the perception of many) is that sin and suffering invade our hearts, lives, and families as well.
Once we finally wrap our minds around all of that, what hope is there that we will actually have the time, stamina, or resolve to focus on reaching our neighborhoods or the nations with the gospel of Jesus?
So, how does a pastor quiet his restless soul in the midst of the restless realities caused by sin and suffering?