Saturday, September 12, 2015

From Death to New Life

It is one of those perfectly beautiful Iowa days that makes you believe in heaven.

Unlike the frigid cold of winter mornings that justify turning over in bed and covering up with a thick comforter, today is the kind of day that feels like a waste if you don’t get out an enjoy it.

It has been a really interesting year. I stepped forward and tried my hand at something new in ministry. Parts of it were huge growth experiences and challenged me in new ways. Other parts were disappointing and gut-wrenching in ways I had never anticipated.

So, after pouring myself into a new area of ministry for the better part of a year and realizing I was not being called to continue to do so, I found myself barren. Empty. Unmotivated even for the ministries that have challenged and sustained me over the last four years.

Unlike the beauty of fall, the autumn of faith life lacks the brilliance of bright colors and fresh air. It can be painful. Empty. When the things that once drove you and got you out of bed in the morning become difficult to even consider, something is dying.

When you arrive at this impasse, there are two choices: Give in to the death and become consumed by it; or acknowledge the death and start to look for the new life.

Those of us familiar with four-season weather cycles know that the death that comes in autumn is not immediately followed by new life of spring, but by winter. Signs of new life are buried under mounds of snow and hard, frozen ground. It can be bitter and unbearable. But as the ground freezes, seeds crack open, preparing them to grow in the warmth of spring.

Not only did something have to die, but it has had to lie barren and the conditions had to be so bleak and cold that the seed planted could, finally, crack, so that in the spring new life can come.

And it is beginning. The seed, planted years ago, finally cracked in the barren emptiness of disappointment and pain. A call is finally less scary than staying where I am. And a loving husband, terrified of what this means for our family, continues to demonstrate his love by being willing to “get used to” an idea he never would have considered.

So, I will be leaving the season of “doing more where I am” and starting to put one foot in front of the other to pursue candidacy and hopefully seminary through a distributed learning program that allows me to continue working and doesn’t require a total relocation.

And for today, as I look out at the spectacular color and delightful weather that is autumn, I am reminded that death can be beautiful.