Awaiting A God-Given Sail
Finding Myself Stranded On The Shores Of Indecision
I have always imagined myself as someone who knows what he wants and where he is going. I’m the kind of “take charge guy” who often jots down To-Do Lists and five-year plans. Charting out my spiritual timeline evolved into a habit for over two decades—to trace my early days, dark periods, remedial lessons, and timely triumphs. In hindsight, there have been specific setbacks this past year that has taken the wind out of my sail. And there have been landmark moments that caused me to look back and say, “It was worth the wait and heartache.” So yes, at times it feels like I’m drifting along towards no place in particular, but then I catch an unexpected breeze that brings me to a place that I’ve never been before—walking my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day in November. It came as a welcome “second wind” that blew me completely away.
A Season Of Much Reflection
As we enter 2010, my wife and I mark our tenth year living in the sleepy mountain community of Valley Center. Over dinner one evening someone asked me if I was retired. And that wasn’t the first time. I suppose my stories and laid-back lifestyle give me away. Living in the mountains, away from the maddening crowd, has afforded me a season of much reflection. I sort of live in a glorified “cabin in the woods” inclusive of all the practical amenities. In so doing, I have become a voracious writer. I joined the HubPages community five months ago and published 73 articles to date with a following of 105 readers and counting. In a sense, it’s gratifying to know that my readership has finally crossed my own cultural boundary spilling over into a melting pot of other nationalities.
No doubt there are times when I yearn to return to full time ministry. I can’t say it hasn’t crossed my mind. Now and then, I toy with that possibility. I find myself searching for church openings, sending out my resume, and going for pastoral interviews. In the meantime, I have maintained my ties with a dear friend and co-laborer in Los Angeles. Two years ago, he helped initiate a work in Eagle Rock among professionals. His constant invites call me out of my mountain enclave every other month or so to teach a Wednesday night bible study. It’s my umbilical cord to kingdom involvement. My wife and I often wonder if maybe God is calling us to live closer to this urban setting—to live among the people I serve. But the freeway traffic, city congestion, and constant noise cause me to tarry in my mountain hideaway. It’s a far cry from country living, but then again, I should live where it is important for me to live—where God calls me to live.
A Dead-End Island Existence
I am reminded of a film entitled Cast Away. It’s the story of a FedEx systems engineer, Chuck Noland, who is suddenly ripped out of his “hasty life by the clock” in a plane crash only to find himself washed up and alone on the shores of a deserted tropical island. First, frustration gets to him and then he realizes how little his chances are to ever get back to civilization. Four years later, Chuck has learned how to survive on his own: making fire, extracting his troublesome molar, catching fish with a spear, and predicting the weather with a self-made calendar. In spite of his willful determination to take control of his life, Chuck soon realized that he was never going to get off the island. He was resigned to the hard realty that he was totally alone, he was vulnerable to sickness or injury, and that he had power over nothing.
After miraculously surviving his harrowing ordeal, Chuck reflects on his dead-end island existence with a friend one evening. He bears his soul saying “And that's when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place [home] again. So that's what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail.”[i]
An Arena Of Christian Work
Are we to advance from this mountain retreat? Or will this tiny secluded hamlet be our homestead for the next ten years? Can we embrace our uncertain future? Across the kitchen table last night my wife shared her thoughts with me. I knew there was something cooking in her mind and it just wasn’t what’s for dinner. She admitted that she wasn’t ready to enter full time ministry back in the day. Our circumstances didn’t allow us to plow ahead toward the mission field before us. Between raising kids, pursuing my seminary degree, balancing the budget, and constantly running out of church support, full time ministry was a mirage. Inviting from a distance, yet an elusive illusion up close. But now when our nest has emptied, my wife expressed her desire to step into the next level of our lives. And if that so happened to be in the arena of Christian work, so be it.
Here’s the kicker. The past year has produced several potential job offers to pastor churches and all of them fell through. A couple made me an offer that was surprisingly refused with no apparent reason. Another had us hunting for a home within a ten-mile radius from the church. During these instances, I was led to believe that I bagged the position only to be left in limbo. Was it my theology? Did the offer go against the grain of God’s plan for us? It’s so difficult to figure. Nevertheless our faith is fixed on God’s promise in Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” To discern my call in Christ is crucial—that’s the discipline!
By the looks of things, my wife senses that God probably isn’t calling me to pastor or even work within the context of a traditional church. After all, I have always lived and ministered along the borderland of Christendom—pioneering a new church work for a period, pressing on toward teaching untried ministry methods, probing statements of faith and doctrinal positions, and pushing the theological envelope. So you know, my God-given helpmate may be on to something.
That being said, I would gladly give my right hand to know what the left hand of God is doing in our lives. Oh what I would give to have a ready answer for what the Lord has in store for the future. While I haven’t been booted off the island, I find myself stranded on the shores of indecision. You can call it a case of spiritual nostalgia, but against seemingly impossible odds, I still wait for God to step in and give me a sail.
[i] Cast Away (DreamWorks SKG, 2000) written by William Broyles Jr. and directed by Robert Zemeckis.
© 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
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