Keeping a journal was not something I did until I was much older. I know there were times when I was younger that I began journaling, but I always ended up tossing it out. It wasn’t until about 2007 that I began keeping a journal, but it had only a smattering of entries. 2010 marked the year that I began an actual journal.
My journal has a plethora of things, now some thoughts go to Facebook or even to my websites, which makes it awkward for looking back at things. My journal is a potpourri, from intense reflections to notes about Bible studies, from simple notations about the day’s events to lengthy writings about concepts for writing and publishing.
August 2011 marked the nearing of almost one full year since I stepped out of the pulpit. In the early part of the month, one of my friends from Indiana traveled to Texas to spend some time with us. While he was here, he, along with my family and me all traveled out to west Texas, visiting Balmorhea, Fort Davis, Marfa, and Big Bend. We had a pleasant time, being able to see the beautiful country, the stars, and the Marfa lights. While there, we caught up with some friends and went swimming at Balmorhea.
When we lived out in that area, there were several times we would help take people across west Texas, the distance is vast, cities and gas stations few, meeting people unprepared for the conditions was common. In helping them, we met many interesting people, with many interesting stories. While out there, making our return home, we helped a couple get back to Junction, and they told us all kinds of interesting stories.
In the early days August 2011, I wrote in my journal that I made the following two posts to Facebook:
Integrity is not limited to purity of physical deeds; true integrity includes mental and emotional uprightness and spiritual purity.
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Factual, historical, and spiritual truth rarely confirm an individual’s belief structure. The problem with investigating truth is that truth, especially true truth, confronts the person and then angers that person, but in the end a person will either accept and adopt the implications of the truth, or ignore it.
There will be those who disagree. But, those things are true. Truth challenges. Truth confronts. Implications of truth should not be ignored. Yet, I have found that those things can be truly difficult to process and implement into life.
Recall that back around August 2010, I began a year long intellectual fast. During that fast I refrained from things like in-depth Bible study projects. That fast ended at the end of July 2011.
Of interest is that during my fast, around May of 2011, I learned of non-ministerial work in the kingdom. I applied for that work. August 2011 arrived and I had yet to hear about the application progress.
I am not certain what prompted this, but on August 8, 2011 a few days after finishing the fast, I entered the following into my journal:
Today, tonight, the evening between 6pm and sundown, I begin my 40 days of drawing near to God. There are a few minor things I feel that I need to do to have put myself into a proper [spiritual] place, one of which is making note that I want to study grace…
I took 40 days and focused, from the evening of August 8 through the evening of September 17. I placed a notice on both of my websites that I was refraining from writing for that period of time. During those days, I read a tremendous amount of Bible texts, including Proverbs.
On August 10, I wrote the following in my journal:
What I know about God does not fill a thimble. Preachers act like they have not just a full thimble but gallons and gallons of information about the infinite. Wisdom, to me, seems to dictate that one becomes aware of how little one actually knows. Humility becomes power.
Two days later, I wrote the following:
How a man chooses to write about history reveals his person more than the persons about [whom] he is writing. The historian, the writer, dare I say the preacher, reveals what is important to him by how he communicates his research to his audience.
The next day, I wrote the following:
YHWH’s temporal and eternal salvation of an individual is relative to the individual’s understanding of [God] and [God’s] truth, predicated upon the individual’s asking, seeking, and knocking for the truth.
Of the trappings in the world, there is no end. But YHWH’s salvation can be found.
With that last thought, I was only five days into my 40 days of drawing near. 35 more days to go. But it is what happened during these 40 days that becomes of utmost interest to me, because the timing of the events should not go unaligned.
Almost three weeks after beginning my period of drawing near to God, an event took place regarding the non-ministerial work I had applied for. On August 25, a representative met with me and my family discussing the work.
The next day, I wrote in my journal:
The environment of the [work] sounded peaceful and cordial, but if I [take this work] I know that I will be muzzled for my length of stay. Things I know cannot truly be spoken because the [work] currently [does not lend itself to complete theological openness].
However, for me, I think I can be mindful… and refrain from conflict. I feel that this opportunity could lead me into apologetics work…. But I am uncertain.
[My son] is okay with the [work], but [my daughter] is not. …
Mary believes that we should evaluate this on a strictly spiritual level and forget [compensation]. I agree. …
I feel/believe that we should meet with those [who offer the work], and if they offer it to me, then I am forced to accept or reject. But if they cannot determine who they want, I will encourage them to flip a coin and let the outcome be God’s.
May had become June. June had become July. July had become August. August was nearly over. But there it was. The very moment I had been waiting for.
I had been able to learn the progress of things regarding the non-ministerial work. I was informed that I was one of two finalists for the position. Four days later, on August 29, I wrote in my journal that they had called me and wanted a fact-to-face interview.
I made several notes for myself. I took the opportunity to talk more in-depth with my wife and children. While it is not recorded, I feel confident that I continued my prayers regarding the opportunity.
The next day, I received a text message. Why a text versus a phone call? I am not sure. That bothers some, but it doesn’t bother me, communication is communication.
At this point, we should recall that this work was my litmus test. It served as my “fleece test” for determining if I was to remain associated with the church of Christ. So the content of the message was unexpected.
They expressed that they had prayed for guidance. After their prayers, they believed they were led to withdraw the offer. I recorded in my journal:
… My heart sank. My anxiety jumped up.
… Then it hit me, it’s my birthday. Is God giving me a gift?
I am interpreting, and said [previously] that if they said, “No.” then God is freeing me from the cofc.
I AM FREE!
Everyone took the news well. [My daughter] seemed more joyful than [my son], but everyone was pleased.
I truly feel pleased that my litmus test, my vow, was delivered by God. He freed me.
On the final day of August 2011, I recorded the following in my journal:
I sit here considering all that has occurred, and I am left feeling awe struck. …
The last year has been a tremendous event, to say the least. Yet, I sit here on the cusp of a new beginning.
I waited for almost two, no, perhaps three months, since the early days of June 2011 to hear [their] decision [about the work]. It was a difficult time for me – like a see-saw (teeter-totter) that never ended I would go [back and forth about this work to] stay in the cofc, then I happened into [a Messianic-Jewish Congregation] during the last week of [my friend’s] stay [with us during August], and that sent me into spiritual turmoil. I no longer really wanted the cofc – but I had to be faithful to my commitment.
I desperately wanted out of my [litmus] test, but I am pleased that [on] August 8 I began my 40 day / 40 night drawing near to YHWH. During that time, I read: Proverbs, Daniel, the Book of Jasher, and started “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy”.
Through these things God has instructed me -be patient – be faithful- but faithfulness is unsettling – there were times I wanted to renounce or find a way to get out of my vow of the… litmus test…. I simply did not want to be thwarted because I tried to thwart the process. I am highly thankful that God has freed me from [what feels like] bondage… and from an obligation to serve in [this work] by interacting with the cofc churches.
In some ways, my coming days are uncertain, for I am not certain what my true roll will be in the church…. I feel… I have written work that must be accomplished, and proclamations that must be made, but I have a foreboding awareness that this work, this walk, will take me to my own cross, my own critical moment of faithfulness. May God give me the strength through Messiah, to find myself faithful….
For now [the Messianic Synagogue] will be my fellowship home, may Father provide my financial means, give me time to study….
Glory to YHWH and glory to Yeshua, the faithful.
That day had one more entry, I wrote:
As I was praying about my work and [praying] about [the Messianic Synagogue]. I prayed whether or not those were the places I am to be. During my prayer it occurred to me to pray that non-peace would be found… if either place is not correct, but to have the spirit of non-peace to occur separately so that I would know to which [one] it applies bus driving or [the Messianic Synagogue] and then I would ask for more leading and direction.
I give a foreshadow, God answered that prayer. Answering for bus driving and the congregation, and answered each one at separate times. God did his part. I had to live up to my part of it, asking for leading and direction.
Blessings and Shalom