I have been listening to a James Taylor song where he sings:
Never give up, never slow down Never grow old, never ever die young.
In the eighth grade I had a foundational moment. It was one of those things that shape and transform.
I quit football.
When I did, the coach looked at me and hatefully said, “Once a quitter always a quitter. You will never amount to anything.”
Coach actually did me a favor in a roundabout way. Those words shook me to my core. As silly as it sounds, I can still feel their sting and I have tried ever since to live my life without quitting anything.
I have been successful thus far in every area with one exception.
I quit preaching.
Initially, there were a couple of valid reasons.
First, for quite some time, I could find nothing good to say about God. Not one single solitary thing. Contrary to what some well meaning but misguided folks wanted me to do, I couldn’t get up and pretend until it felt right again.
That wouldn’t have been preaching. I may have said words, but I would have been doing nothing other than flapping my gums.
And besides, I had already lost so much, I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my integrity too.
The second reason was really simple. I could not walk in the auditorium of our church building and worship.
I. Couldn’t. Do. It.
Every time I went, all I could see when I looked at the front were two caskets that had been there previously. It was not unusual to almost vomit right where I sat.
So, I quit. I walked away. I ran as fast as I could from the heartache, pressure, and stress of three hundred people looking to me for leadership, guidance, and a Word from The Lord.
I was empty. Void.
A vacuum needing to be filled.
I could never imagine preaching in a church building again.
Thankfully, a church in Yazoo City invited me this past November/December to fill their pulpit twice. They were very gracious as I trembled before them and spoke of my journey, my struggling faith, and my desire to somehow find my way.
I am stronger now. Much stronger. And while I have no desire to pastor/ shepherd/minister a local church again, I have realized God has not stripped me of the passion needed to serve and minister to others.
My discernment may not be as accurate as I hope, but I think I sense his hand filling me and leading me to a new voice of ministry with a greater freedom than ever experienced before. I pray for bigger and better opportunities to write, speak, share, and encourage those whose faith has faltered.
I can always use some tag team partners in this wrestling match with God.
James Taylor sings never give up, never slow down, never grow old, never ever die young.
Here’s my challenge…
I will not give up; I will not slow down.
I will not live the rest of my life as an old man afraid of change.
I will die one day, but it will not be as a young man untested or bested by what this world throws my way.
Here I stand.
How about you?
Will you stand too?