This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, October 26, 2018
This week I had the privilege – truly – of sitting with members of our M&P Committee for my annual Performance Review. I know that ‘privilege’ and ‘review’ might not go together for some folks in some places, but in this community, for this staff team, we are blessed with a Ministry & Personnel team that cares and supports in textbook, Jesus-modelled ways. And I’m not just saying that so they write nice things in my review.
So why am I saying that? Mostly because at one point in the meeting, I was asked if there are parts of my ministry that I find frustrating. The honest answer I gave, and don’t mind sharing again, is that my greatest frustration is often feeling like there isn’t enough of me to go around. This is a busy and vibrant community, with wonderful leaders, a community mission and vision, and endless opportunities to share. That’s exciting and good, but it also means I can’t seem to get to everything and everyone as I would like; as I feel I ought and as my heart longs to be. That’s my issue, not yours, and one I’ll just keep working on.
In a very timely way, some of the balance I seek seems encapsulated in stories written this week about the late Eugene Peterson, who died this past Monday, at 85. As you may know, Peterson was the translator of a popular paraphrase of the Bible known as The Message. You’ve heard me read from it often, and you’ve heard me give thanks for folks like Peterson, for giving more linguistic options for this ancient, sacred text. Not surprisingly, The Message wasn’t all of Peterson’s work. He was also a Presbyterian minister, a scholar, a father and husband, and beloved friend. He was a prolific author, with more than 30 books to his name, including A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It’s that last piece that is now on my to-read list, as it apparently focuses on discipleship and perseverance in discipleship. The title alone makes me want it on my shelves.
What has any of this to do with you and your present state of the heart? I’m not certain, to be blunt. Maybe nothing at all… but I suspect it does. Somehow, in all of our diversity, all of our varied stories and needs, we are all seeking that long obedience in the same direction. Whether we’ve been on this road for a few weeks or our whole lives long, as followers of Jesus we are doing our best to live the best version of who God has created us to be. Some days that’s clearer than others. Some days we’re stretched or frustrated more than others. But every day, we’re blessed with the spoken, written, and lived truth that our fundamental purpose is to love, trusting and sharing that God loves us. Maybe that’s over-simplified or simplistic. Or, maybe, it’s exactly where we’re supposed to be.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us… But for right now…we have three things to do…: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13: 12 & 13, The Message, translated by Eugene Peterson)