The Seven Year Itch
It hit me recently that I’m starting my seventh year in my current church. I realized that I haven’t been in the same place for seven years since I was a teenager. Furthermore, this is the longest appointment of my ministry. That was somewhat startling for me. Even though I’m not itching to leave (I hope to be here for many years), I’m realizing that there is something different about a seventh year for me. It’s a little unsettling because I’m forging new ground, but at the same time there is a certain sense of exhilaration.
This morning as I was spending time with God I had a moment where I looked back on the year that has been. I looked back from a good place, a peaceful place from which I’ve known and experienced and ever deepening awareness of God’s presence. There was a brief moment where the question “why did it take so long?” floated into my consciousness. This is not the first time that I’ve had that thought. My learning curve has been so steep the last year that this particular question has been an almost constant companion. I learned to live in this question and instead of it producing anxiety, recrimination and guilt it has become an open door through which I’ve learned to recognize God’s hand in the intricate weaving of my life. I know now that all of the seemingly disparate events and circumstances in my life have been joined together by grace to form something extraordinary. Even the painful experiences, those marked by rejection and failure, have added something special to the picture by their contrast. God has indeed made something beautiful out of my life in spite of my best efforts to buck the trends, second guess and just generally not pay attention.
So, back to this morning…as I looked back from this vantage point bathed in grace I could see all of the different pieces of last year form this beautiful whole. It looked almost like one of those cool computer animations. I could see the pieces move. As the picture of the last year came together I began to look farther back in my life. I wanted to see where this all started. I was looking for square one. Methodically I looked back over my life hoping to find that one time, that one experience where it all began. I was looking for that day of new birth. While I was disappointed that I couldn’t find square one, I realized that this simply meant that there was no end to the string. I celebrated the realization that there was no time in my life (let alone my conscious memory) where God was not at work weaving this unique tapestry that is my life. Even when I remember my confirmation, when I made my profession of faith in Jesus, I realize that this blessed moment was a culmination and the weaving of my life to that point.
I suppose that the question of why certain things in my life, my faith and my understanding seem to take so long to be recognized will always be part of my life. Maybe that’s God’s way of keeping me from taking too much for granted. I hope and pray that when those times do come up in my life I will remember the picture that God painted for me this morning.