Fittingly enough I was in a cow pasture, surrounded, by, well, cow products. I was in a surly mood, and I was preparing to duke it out with God. Yeah, with God.
I was in a frustrated place and time in life. It had something to do with a certain number of years in “vocational ministry”. This is a term we use when we get paid to do stuff for God. I had reached whatever the tipping point was, and I was beginning to consider that maybe God was a bad boss. And so the argument began, right there among the cow products. (this is a term we use in place of other terms)
“Okay, God, I think it stinks that…” I began. The complaint was more a sense bubbling up than anything I had really thought consciously, until that moment, but it was rising fast.
“Okay, God, I think it stinks that I have to be the Free-est person at the church where I serve.” I finally protested.
For years, one of my core values has centered around the statement that “Free People free people”. Taken from Jesus directive to His disciples when He told them, “Freely you have received, freely give.” I teach that this means we will give away whatever is inside us, so we must take care of what is inside us. Technique and strategy are secondary, personhood is the well from which others will really drink. Because of this, I hold myself and my team to a standard. We must tend to our own souls first.
The years had passed and the ministry had grown. The numbers of people drinking from the well increased every year. Now whole churches were beginning to draw from our waters. This should be exciting right? But I was tired. I was beginning to dry up, and had far less to give than in the early years.
So I complained. I was certain it was God’s fault. He was just asking too much of poor little me. Strangely, He was not as quick to take responsibility.
“I think it stinks that I have to be the free-est person at my church,” I had uttered accusingly. Then He answered. I hope you know what I mean when I say “He answered”. Somewhere in my spirit I had a strong sense. The sense became words in my mind. I always say that I hear a voice and it is smarter than me. He answered.
“Bob,” He seemed to say, even a bit gently, “I made you free, you made it a job..”
“Wait,” I felt the word desperately rise up in my mind. I was quickly losing my scapegoat. He seemed to think it was my fault. Why, I would never do such a thing to myself. Why would I possibly treat myself so poorly?
I had no more allowed this thought to flit through my consciousness when that Voice started to respond to the ill-formed question. I was pretty sure it had been a rhetorical question when it passed through my consciousness, but God seemed to take it seriously. It was almost as if He took me more seriously than I did, and that is exactly what He began to talk to me about.
He told me how much He wanted to care for my soul, and He let me know that I had not been trusting Him or others enough to allow anyone else to take me seriously. I have needs too. He began to tell me why I had not been trusting Him, and He began to remind of times where He had provided for me, but I had opted to handle things on my own.
Let me take this opportunity to warn you about talking to God. He wants to talk to you about you. He wants to talk to you about you, and about Him, and about the ways that you relate to each other. He wants that conversation far more than He wants to talk about your circumstances.
That day, I argued with God, and He won. I am grateful He won. It had been very tiring for me to keep winning.