…surely by now you’ve realized, Lord, how unqualified and what a miserable excuse for a Christian I am.
Following Jesus, pursuing your passions, moving in your anointing does not make your life easier, but it makes it worthwhile. And that is what the human heart truly desires in the end.
I so relate to Jeremiah as God has had to bug me over and over again, urging me to keep pursuing my call, to keep using my gifts, to stop trying to rearrange my life and pursue the things my flesh thinks it wants to do like there is no eternity and this is all there is.
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not. Jeremiah 20:9
About this time of year 17 years ago I was driving back and forth from the Ranch on Blue Creek, south of Billings, where we lived, and Clark WY. Fisher, whom I work for, was rebuilding a house that had burned down just north of Clark. The reason I remember the drive so well is because the Holy Spirit pestered me all the way there and all the way back, every day, an hour and a half there and an hour and a half back.
I know it was him because there was no other reason why I should be thinking so much about something I had no desire to do, something I had declared to my whole family just that past Easter, that I was not going to do, and that was to sign up for classes at the newly created Yellowstone Valley Bible Institute at my home church, in Billings—Faith Chapel.
It wasn’t that I was so opposed to taking classes, although the thought of sitting in a class, reading theology books and writing papers certainly didn’t appeal to me, I was a carpenter and a rancher, the only scholarly book I wanted to read was the repair manuals for our old haying equipment. The reason I was so adamant and resisting the urge to sign up for these classes was because I knew why the Lord, and everyone else who knew me well, wanted me to take them—to prepare me for being a pastor.
The Lord had given me a gift of teaching, and I had been teaching kid’s Sunday school, jail ministry, bible studies… I had already discovered, when I took a year off from teaching Sunday school, that if I wasn’t teaching I was miserable, but Pastoring? That’s a different story. Problem is, the Lord had told me 15 years earlier that I was supposed to be a pastor. ‘Surely by now that ship had sailed, surely by now you’ve realized, Lord, how unqualified and what a miserable excuse for a Christian I am.’
‘I’m getting kids saved at church, isn’t that enough? And at home I’m building a herd—of kids and cows—and trying to move into my dream of being a full time rancher, I aint got no time for preaching’ Besides that, I’ve been around enough preachers now to know that you would have to be crazy to want to do that—write a sermon —every single week, deal with people’s issues, heartaches and hang ups? Who would sign up for that?’
‘But—there are so many people out there who need to hear the gospel, who need to know the love of Jesus, so many messed up lives—but why is it my problem?’ —That was my summer, that was the dialogue in my head that just wouldn’t go away. It was time to answer the call. At one time I wanted to answer, tried to answer, but no one and nothing was cooperating, I couldn’t just take off across the country and go to school, the staff at my home church wasn’t helping me in my desire to climb in the church ranks—but that was years ago, ‘now I’m 40 years old with a farm and a family!’
The only thing I can figure out is that the Lord was just waiting for me to decide I didn’t want to be a pastor after all, and now he wasn’t going to let me have peace until I obeyed.
Well, guess who won the argument. In late August I filled out all the paper work, answered all the ‘when was the last time you drank, smoked, looked at pornography, what is your church background’ questions, got the character references, a copy of my GED and in September this cowboy carpenter was sitting in Collage level classes in the evening after working all day and remembering why I always hated school.
But I stuck it out and after three years of torture I graduated and soon after got licensed while serving as a Children’s/associate pastor in a church I helped plant.
And you know what? Everything I ever imagined about how hard it would be to be a Pastor —was true, all the reasons I didn’t want to do it were valid. But now, having been licensed as a Foursquare Pastor for 14 years, half of that time as the Senior Pastor of Hope Chapel Red Lodge, and having been neck deep in two church plants— I can think of nothing else I would rather do. Teaching is my passion, writing is my passion, whatever I can do to get the word of God, to get his message for his church, to those who need it, I will do it no matter the cost, and it has costs —in every respect. And the enemy spends way too much time targeting me.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Heb 1:9
But the grace of God is always sufficient and the pay-off is beyond words. I have been anointed with the oil of Joy, I have a passion and I get to do something about it, I get to use the gifts he has given me, my dreams have become his dreams and his dreams have become my dreams and no matter the cost, no matter how hard, no matter how messed up everything around me seems to be, no matter how much hurt I see in those around me, I get to have a peace in my heart because I know, that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, what I am anointed to do, and that makes a difference in this messed up world. I get to deliver a message of hope to the hurting. And if that doesn’t make a heart glad—glad to be where God had put it—then you are not in the place God wants you.
Our greatest joy often comes from doing the things we think we least want to do. Passion driven purpose is never easy.
Passion driven purpose is never—by its very nature—easy. A passion to change something, especially a passion that is anointed by God, drives us to work hard, to do things we might fear doing, but we never regret and we never surrender.
All of us have a place where God wants us to be, a place where everything is not sunshine and roses, but a place where you can bring light into the darkness, hope where there is none to be found, joy—where there is only sorrow, you just need to follow the Lord, answer the call on your heart, and receive the anointing with the oil of gladness.
Find your true joy in your calling, in doing something about what you are passionate about, your anointing and calling—whatever that may be in your life— in light of the Joy that we are supposed to be experiencing in your service to the Lord.
Don’t wait for others to point you—follow Jesus and him alone, please church— the world depends on you.