Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Want A Clerical Collar

I am probably a little too candid for my own good.  It’s just how I am.  The other day I wrote a blog on Sounds of Hope.  It was hardly hope filled.  Yet, I think sometimes hope is best expressed in reality.  The Psalms are like that.  Many deep laments are expressed in their poetic words.  Yet, they often end with praise to God, a prayer for deliverance, and an offering of hope. 

A long time ago a person prayed over me and gave me these words:  “Deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7).  The Message translates this phrase, “chaos calls to chaos.”  I suggest you read the whole Psalm as well as the Psalm 43; the two Psalm were intended to be one.  You can find it in The Message here. 

When someone gives me a phrase or a verse like that, I usually take it seriously.  I’ve read this verse and the verses around it dozens and dozens of times.  I’ve never quite understood what it meant.  Oh I understand intellectually, but I have never understood how it applied to me.  I’ve shed plenty of tears.  I’ve had my name destroyed.  I’ve had all manner of chaos in my life.  I’ve certainly had life’s waves and breakers crash over me.  Was God just saying your life is going to be rough and hard?  Was He just reminding me of the truth of my life?

David suggested we write about practical ministry.  I started to write about pastoral ministry.  I think of pastoral ministry as very practical.  It’s the man or woman who will visit the hospital, will sit all night with the dying, will make sure you have food on the table, and that your spiritual appetite is fed as well.  It’s a difficult calling.  It’s often a thankless calling.

Every time I fill out one of those spiritual gifts inventories, I’m told I’m “pastoral.”  I have friends who try to encourage me and tell me I’m pastoral.  Depending on the person, sometimes I just smile.  Other times I give them my true feelings and tell them how discouraged I am.

Lately I’ve been thinking about pastors.  I’ve been wondering where they are?  There is not a week that goes by that someone doesn’t seek me out for counsel or prayer.  They seem to come from all sorts of places.  I’ve wondered at times, don’t they have a pastor?  I love it when people come to me.  After all, that is my gifting.  But I do wonder. 

Yesterday I was pastoral.  The day started with a call from the clerk at the hotel we would stay at in Columbia Missouri.  Often she would check us in.  Occasionally we’d chat.  I learned a bit of her story.  I gave her my card.  She called me.  Said she had been touched by me and wanted to see how I was.  I thought huh?  Then I got a call from the hospital, a friend needed transportation from the hospital after surgery.  I delighted in serving her and taking her home.  I spent time yesterday praying for these two women along with the friends who I love who are in deep need.

I may not have a title or a paycheck.  I want one.  I know that doesn’t sound very spiritual but it’s honest.  I don’t know how to be anything else but honest.  Nevertheless, I think I’m realizing that ministry doesn’t need a title or a paycheck.  As I look at a fellow seminary student sporting her new clerical collar, I am envious.  But today I’m laying that down and determining to Pastor the flock God gives me.

You may ask, what does that have to do with Deep Calls To Deep?  It has a lot to do with it.  As I share my chaos, my questions, my life, my reality, my vulnerability, my pain, the deepness of it calls out to those hurting.  They hear the familiar sound of their own pain.  Their heart says she’ll understand.  Then together we can learn to jump in the waves of life rather than being swallowed.  I may not have a collar, but I have a flock.   If you need a Pastor, I'm here.    


David-FireAndGrace said...

All I could say when I got to the end is "Holy Epistles" - well, something close to that.

You are an amazing person, Joyce. I do hope that God fulfills the desire of your heart to care and feed others, you're great at it.

I don't know what to say about the place where you are supported to do this work. it seems like the time may be close. :)

Duke Taber said...

Joyce I found in the 10 years between pulpits that I experienced, that being a pastor is not so much a title or position, but it is just who we are. I was a pastor to truck drivers and co-workers for years. It just came out of me.

My interpretation of deep calls out to deep is that you have to walk through the fire to minister to those in the fire. That people sense a person who has walked the path before them, and can show them the way to go. I have experienced the same in my life. The chaos that you have walked through will call to the those still in the chaos.

Blessings Sis

Pastor Duke

Tracy said...

My heart rejoices as I read this because it's a beautiful thing to see your heart here, to read how God uses the pain and problems you've been through to use you to reach out and be there for those going through similar situations.

Duke Taber said...

This article made my top 10 articles of the week. Keep up the good work!