There is Always Hope; This I know!

hope

There have been occasions when I thought my world was falling apart.

In some ways it has.

And yet the reality is I am still standing.

Battered, yes.
Changed, yes.
Different, yes.

And at the risk of being misunderstood, at this point in my life, I like who I am as a minister better than I ever did before.

I often hear people say that if they were they in my shoes, they couldn’t do what I am doing now; they couldn’t be where I am now—but in my opinion, they are selling themselves short.

The human spirit was created with resiliency and strength. You are stronger than you might have imagined, but with God, you are far stronger than you know.

And while life can be quite complex, the truth is fairly simple.

Life moves on.
People adapt.
People adjust.
We grow and stretch.
We stretch and grow.

We learn, develop, and become something new, something different, and sometimes something better.

What we have suffered or endured can be and frequently is a crucible of fire refining what was into what will be.

Even better, Christians have the ability to look back and see God at work—and to know he is still at work in our lives!

I am not sure I always believed that.
But I do now.
I do now…

Three years later.
Three years later, our lives are vastly different.
Three years later, we have learned to live again.

To laugh.
To hope.
To dream.
To experience.

Three years later, we are always cognizant of those who are missing from the table.
Three years later, we are never far from the reminders of what was.
But, three years later, we know there is life yet to be lived and we honor the memories as we build a new future.

Three years later…

These days, life has never been more real or precious to me.
My perspective has changed.
My propensity to judge has been dampened.
I am more apt to listen and empathize with the hurts, losses, and struggles of others.

That’s where I am.
I have learned to trust that God is working and using our experiences to somehow bring glory to His name and hope for His people.

Because no matter how dark it gets…
No matter how hard the wind blows…
No matter how deep the losses pile up…

There is always hope.
There is always hope.
This I know.

Three years later, there is always hope.
This I know…

 For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13 HCSB)

Up on the mountain,
Where your love captured me,
Where finally I’m free,
This I know.
Up on the mountain,
Where you taught my soul to sing,
Amazing grace the sweetest thing,
This I know.

And then the storm rushing in,
And here I am again,
This I know.

Take me up to where I was,
When I never wanted more than you.
Lift me up to feel your touch,
It wouldn’t be that much for you.
This I know.
This I know.
This I know.
This I know.

Up on the mountain,
Where You took me by the hand,
Taught me to dance again,
This I know.
Up on the mountain,
Where You took this heart of stone,
Put life back in these bones,
This I know.

Take me up to where I was,
When I never wanted more than you.
Lift me up to feel your touch,
It wouldn’t be that much for you.
This I know
This I know
This I know
This I know
(David Crowder)

There is always hope.
This I know.
This I know.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Trying to Sing A New Song (Reflections on Being Herded)

Have you ever had to change your story?
Or maybe learn to sing a different tune?

Sometimes we find out things are not quite what we thought or maybe there was a different detail than what was first understood. As a result, we may have to amend what was said or be more accurate in the future telling.

Sometimes we have learned a song one way only to realize we have been singing the wrong note or using the wrong tempo. Adjustments have to be made in order to sing the song as it was written.

Time, distance, and perspective often conspire to cloud our vision or remembrance. Pain and suffering can do the same thing.

Tragedy has a crazy way of redefining, rewriting, and rewiring not only our story or song, but whatever they might become.

In my case, I have long felt certain a particular part of my life has been closed off to me altogether.

Done.
Finished.
Over.
Thankful.

Yes, thankful. Being a full time local minister is hard, difficult, and emotionally draining.
It is hard on families.
It is hard.

It is full of amazing blessings, but often hard nonetheless.

As a result, I have spent lots of time preparing, trying, and singing a new song.

This song is comprised of a new identity, new career, new direction, and a new location.

At one point, I never really thought I would ever speak again in front of any kind of crowd. Especially one church related.

Done.
Finished.
Over.
In the past for good.

That one didn’t last for very long.

Quicker than I would have imagined it fell by the wayside. With the foray into blogging and writing, the speaking opportunities have been pretty steady. This week makes the first week this year that didn’t have me speaking some where, some how. I’ll make up for it speaking three times next week at The Tulsa Workshop.

My goal and plan, this new song I wanted to sing, began to change. Slowly but surely I reimagined myself back in ministry, but totally defined in a way that let me be comfortable.

I was either going to stay in real estate or find another job that would provide for my family while allowing me the freedom to continue writing and speaking on weekends. There are lots of folks who struggle with faith and trust—and I felt (still do) that my abilities, knowledge, and experience were perfectly suited to help fellow travelers…

Thus commenced the other-than-real estate job search for something a little more dependable financially. I think I can fill out an application, take a questionnaire, describe my experience, and write a cover letter blindfolded and asleep, all at the same time!

Yes, I am that good. But apparently not good enough for another job. I can also fill up a trashcan with all of the rejection letters.

It’s actually quite funny. There have been days when tears of frustration rolled down my face, but now I just have to laugh at how crazy it all is!

Day Laborer? Not qualified!
AT&T Store? Not qualified!
Community/ Public Relations? “We never even considered you!” (That one hurt bad!)
Government Job? Not qualified!
Government Job? Not qualified enough!
Government Job? Qualified but not as qualified!
Home Depot? Depart from me, we never knew you!

And while at times my emotions have been all over the map, I am beginning to think there is a God reason for all the set backs, difficulties, and disappointments.

I think my new song is not going to sound anything like I intended.

And truthfully, I am somewhat afraid of the tune that seems to be playing.
Terrified, actually.

I don’t know how, where, or why, but it feels like I am being herded right back into the life and work of a local church minister.

I can’t believe I just typed that…

Done.
Finished.
Over.
In the past for good?

Not so fast, Mr. Used-to-Be Preacherman, not so fast.

My new song may end up being an old familiar one.

My struggles with God are not over. I have much yet to understand.
In the process I am having to learn how to not be so resistant.

I used to sing where He leads me I will follow.
With a scratchy voice, I am warming up for the song to come!

In the meantime, does anybody want to buy or sell a house?

Blessings to all,

Les Ferguson, Jr.