As I add these posts from a few years ago. the question may arise as to why. Two reasons.
- To know the journey that has led me, our family, friends and ministry to the point we are today. This will help others to understand.
- . I have yet to come across a person who has not gone through some trauma, some sort of brokenness. We all journey in a world of brokenness and woundedness. It is in the times of great darkness of the soul that we get a chance to find a way out into the light.
A SWORD WILL PIERCE YOUR SOUL
Today is August 17! A year ago today I lost my job! But, in even saying these words, it does not come near enough to describing what happened. I recently received a gift from a friend, a book that has provided hope and healing. A sword will pierce your soul, by Caroline Julihn.
The title of this book has nailed my feelings exactly. I could not find the words that would so accurately portray my anguish.
The day started off with the normal hustle and bustle of running a street ministry. But underneath the strains of normalcy were the struggles of working with staff and a board, fundraising for some major renovations, working with the city on building codes and engineer reports. In the background were other pressing cares, friends wrongly accused of killing horses, ministries in trouble, the double suicide of sisters, who were friends of ours, a street friend’s death, a friend’s daughter running away from home. For me a meeting was coming. I was still struggling with some staff issues. Then one of my staff come tells me that they were a team before I got there. Then shortly after the board chairman and another board member comes up near the end of the day and tells me I am fired and to pack my stuff and get out. What???!!!! Why???? I did not understand. They allowed me gracefully to leave after the staff was gone. Save my pride and my dignity! So I would not make a stink? Hmmm! The most difficult call I had to make was to my wife who was away enjoying the upcoming birth of our first grandchild. Then to all of my family and friends. I remember thinking what a great birthday present. A day after my birthday I am jobless.
In the weeks and months that followed. I was filled with questions and cries! “Why was I being punished?” Of any job I had ever had this was the one I felt I was doing my very best. “Why was
God punishing me?” We had just moved here from Manitoba, just bought a house. Are we going to lose our home now? What am I going to do now? As some of the dust settled, I began to have staff, volunteers, board members, members of the community talk to me. Call me, come to my house, they were shocked and stunned by this. I found out that, a board member had lied to the rest of the board, that this person was in conflict of interest and had even told some of my staff they were going to get rid of me. There was more. Yes, I had made mistakes; I can see now areas where I could have handled things differently. But none of this had warranted the response and the out come. There was no moral failure, no theft of money or mismanagement of funds as I later heard. There was no comment from the board, just silence. Even today questions arise as to why.
More importantly than all of this is the response and feedback, I got from so many others across the country. This is the reason for my sharing. It is not to whine and complain about an injustice, it is not to get back at those who in their opinion did what the felt was the right thing to do. I want to make sure I hold no grudges and that I do not speak with a poison keyboard.
The most important reason for sharing is to provide hope and encouragement to those who read my words.
This journey Cindy and I have been on has affected more than just us, it has affected our family, extended family, friends, those we worked with and for, those who supported us and the community and even more importantly the ones who we came to serve. Those are the ones I continue to get angry about. The ones we are called to serve have been affected by this.
This journey as afforded me the privilege of speaking with so many people this past year. People whose lives have been traumatized by death, illness, marital breakdown, job loss like mine and as well as the economy. Friends who have had to deal with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the flooding in Manitoba and elsewhere this year, the fire and devastation in Slave Lake So many people who love God and those who do not know him, have shared with me stories and hurts about themselves and their loved ones. Broken families, broken homes, and broken lives. It has wrecked me to the core. Even as I searched for answers to my own plight and as I sunk into to my pit of despair, unto the point of planning my death. Where I would do it and how I would do it. I knew, even that if I had felt like God had abandoned me and was punishing me for my being a sinful person. At the same time a war waged in my innermost being for my soul. Even as that was foremost in my mind. I knew that God cared about all the hurt that people were feeling and there had to be a way to help them.
So then the change began. At the point of utter despair, I began to breathe again, and to just start taking one at a time. Not much had changed, I still felt the same. I still felt like God was punishing me and I was a failure. But I knew I could not quit and give up. My wife, my children and now my grandchildren need me, I knew from so many people and the experiences I had that taking my life was not an option. So, as I began to distance myself from there, I began to see that God was showing me things again.
My heart attitude; Growing up in a dysfunctional abusive lifestyle. I never knew what my father really thought of me. I knew he loved me and we reconciled before his death, we had a good relationship, but I never knew what he thought of me, I never knew if I was good enough. God showed me that my focus needs to be on Him. He is my eternal father and even as I screw up. I will always measure up. He loves me unconditionally. I am still trying to understand all that this means. I am still trying work through the process of knowing by faith that there is nothing I can do to earn his favor. He just loves us as we are. I am still trying to understand about punishment and consequences. Even as I look at myself as prodigal son and God the grieving father, I am learning about my relationship with him. I know forgiveness.
The second thing God has shown me is a pure heart towards Him and my family: The intimacy that comes with being in relationship. I have never fully understood sacrificial love. I still am processing this concept. Jesus loves us sacrificially! He died for us. He gave up his rights; he gave up all so that we could win. The journey we have been on has brought us to the precipice of despair, to near marital breakdown. This journey has shown us just like Nehemiah’s calling to rebuild the walls. We need to patch the bricks and chinks in our city walls, the walls of our lives, the walls of our relationships. The thing I am learning is that as we sacrificially give of ourselves to our loves ones, our friends and even our enemies, we cannot hold grudges, we cannot tear down, and we must build up, encourage and seek to serve more.
The third and final thing that God has been showing me is that as a Christian I need to be an encourager. When the Lord disciplines us, He never tears down and degrades. He shows us where we need to fix, or repair areas in our lives. His plan is always to build us up. Not for here in this world, but for the next. Mark Driscoll, a pastor said once that if we had a pile on our right that was piled up with all of the stuff that is important to us, relationships, money, possessions, whatever and on our left was Jesus Christ, the lover of our souls. Which would we pick and would there be any hesitation? I know for a brief second I would wince at losing my bike, or my relationships. But in the end. It has to be Jesus for me.
My friends as I share from my heart. I know some will not share the same feelings, or beliefs. I know some may be offended. It is not my intent to badger, offend or put down. My intent in sharing our journey with you. Is to provide hope, healing and restoration. As I share today, I am still not fully employed, I have looked for work that would pay the bills, or allow me to continue in ministry. No doors have opened as yet! We wish to continue to remain in the Okanagan for many reasons, but we will go where He leads us. We may still lose our house, but we will not lose our home and there are so many uncertainties. Our journey is not over and we are waiting with hope and excitement for the next bend in the road.
I cannot thank you my many friends for standing with us, supporting us, your words of communication and your prayers. I thank those of you who have shared from your hearts your own burdens and cares. Truly none of us are alone. Each one of us lives in relationship and each one of us have people who love and care for us. Above all, we have a God that loves us and walks with us, even when it seems as if He is silent.
Thanks for letting me share