Ministerial Meandering

 

Losing focus

I could have thought that it was just my glasses, or - in days gone by, the

dreaded ‘isibhabalazi’ after too much whisky the night before - but

something was out of focus. My glasses, for once, were not fogged up or

smeary, my head didn’t hurt or pound - but something was clearly not right

with my world.

“Take a ‘time out’”, I thought, “and fix it”. So I did - but it didn’t. “Take a

walk with dogs, and tell them all about it”, I thought. So I did - but I found I

didn’t know what to say to them. “Go and say your prayers, you fool!” I

thought. So I did - and I couldn’t think of a thing to say, except how lost I

felt.

How could I get to this stage of my life and still feel so incredibly helpless,

so incapable, so needy, so…childish? Was I sick? Perhaps I hadn’t had

enough salt or something; perhaps my blood sugar was out of kilter;

perhaps I was quietly losing my mind.

Why did it seem such an effort to do anything? Hah! Bloody Covid again, I

expect! But no - test negative, and not like when I had had it before

anyway. I need a holiday perhaps - well, I knew that, but the whole idea of

packing up and going somewhere filled me with dread. I had become

stuck.

Mental quagmires soon escalate into emotional quagmires, which will then

transmogrify into physical inertia from which it is increasingly difficult to

escape - like walking into deeper and deeper clinging mud, which I have

done, or walking into quicksand, which I haven’t, or I wouldn’t be writing

this bizarre meandering at all. Although I could imagine you might be

grateful for that.

 

I think what I might have been experiencing was a ‘crisis of the soul’. We

all get them, and though that doesn’t make it any easier, it does mean that

it is part of the human condition. The problem with us Christians is that we

think we should be immune to such things - they shouldn’t happen to us.

Unfortunately, that is a load of rubbish (I nearly had to make a donation to

the ‘Swear Jar’ there!). I cannot emphasize that enough. Indeed, I suspect

we are even more prone to this sort of mental fog and stagnation than

others, for the very simple reason that we feel we should be immune.

We - above all - should be clear in our sense of direction and purpose. We

have a mission to perform for Christ; we are called to his service - how can

we possibly be lost? And yet, here we are feeling sorry for ourselves, and

useless. I imagine Jesus felt just the same when he went out into the

desert for 40 days and was tempted to jack the whole thing in - and just be

a superstar, enjoying all the fame and women he could manage. I cannot

speak for his time in the first century, but I’m sure there were similar people

even then who attracted the adulation nowadays only afforded to hockey

players and rappers.

And at the end of his ministry, I don’t think that Jesus had a wild time in the

Garden of Gethsemane; it wasn’t a ‘pity party’ as ours can become if we’re

not careful, but he certainly had some doubts, anguish, and loss of focus -

“Really, Father? Do I have to do this?”

All we can do when we get into a mental funk is ask for the fog to dissipate,

so that our way will once again be clear to us. It isn’t always quick, and it

isn’t always easy - but the purpose of your life will come back to you. Don’t

take my word for it - take Jesus’ word; ‘The work of God is this - that you

believe on the one he has sent.’ (John 6:29). And the Psalmist said it

before him; ‘I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for

me.’ (Ps 57:2). So relax - Jesus is still holding you - always.

 

Philip+


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