Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Consolation Prize

I woke up this morning with the sun on my face. Looking out my window I could see the sky, a perfect Colorado blue, the type of sky that John Denver sings about in Rocky Mountain High. Just another perfect day in a seemingly perfect place.
Serenity should be the state of my heart, perfect peace as I look out my sliding door to see a few lonesome puffy white clouds floating across the perfect sky. However, the past few days have lead me to a numerous onslaught of thoughts.
Thinking, pondering, over thinking, analyzing, that's sort of how my life cycles. For an extrovert I tend to be a very introspective thinker. My freshman year of college I picked up a journal, and have written in a journal nearly every day since. I have an entire shelf filled with old journals, and on a rare occasion I like to read through what my hopes and dreams were just a few short years ago, and how much I have grown and changed. God has been abundantly faithful to me, and that is so clear in the pages written so clearly in my own hand.
Yet, for some reason I still tend not to trust him as much as I should. The other day I heard that someone I trusted was spreading rumors about me at church. Gossip gets under my skin, because I have seen it destroy churches completely, to the point where I've seen churches have to close their doors. Gossip is never constructive, it's always destructive. It is never helpful, it is always hurtful.
It felt as though I had stepped out of the world of the youth pastor, and into the life of one of my middle school students. How many times have I held them as they have told me of the cruel things people have said behind their back? How many times have they had to go back and look into the faces of their accusers?
Yet, here I was, frustrated, confused, hurt, and angry as someone hadn't approached me to clear up a misunderstanding, but made it worse by calling everyone about it.
I let my frustrating seep into me, grab a hold of my heart, and nearly suffocate it. For though my hurt was coming from a place deep within me, and I had every reason to feel hurt, I forgot a very important fact "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31. For a few moments I thought that it was when people said nice things about me that I am following God's will, yet it is the opposite. I forgot that the desire of my heart is to be more Christ like, and that in being like Christ I also must enter into his sufferings, sufferings that went far deeper than rumors and lies. I seemingly forgot that I am not trying to gain the approval of men, but of God. For it is God who holds me accountable in the end, not someone in my congregation.
"As a consolation prize we may sometimes remember the words of Jesus: 'Woe to you when all people speak well of you,' and take comfort that we have at least escaped that woe."
~J. Philip Wogaman
And at least for now, I have escaped that woe.

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