I realized yesterday that I am suffering from a cognitive form of self-illusion e.g., I've been lying to myself. The truth is, my (and our) life for the last 4 years (this October, but really for 4.5 years) has been built on a carefully constructed financial lie, that we could afford the lifestyle we have.
The short story is that when we purchased the house we currently live in, we got a no-document loan (a loan in which you state an income without any evidence of having it). It was not a big deal, because after all, I was now working for The Firm, and success was just around the corner!
The reality is, I never made as much as I said I would on that loan document (in point of fact, my income dropped below what I made in my previous industry by doing real estate). Even now, three years after quitting The Firm, I am still not there.
I mention this because it came to my attention last night another lie I have been pawning off on myself: that of my career.
As I had mentioned (last month, I believe) - I had the possibility to do something I have dreamed of for a long time. Unfortunately, it required an investment that I did not have at the time. I have been hoping against hope that something would come through -but, related to the first item above, the reality is that a financially self deluded lifestyle does not allow for things like this. Nor, I think, is God willing to reward disobedience.
What I realized, as I sat down to write the letter asking for a later reconsideration, is that I knew that this is what I should do - just like I knew, at one time, that I should be in the pastorate.
That story, an entirely separate one, caused me to review my letter of rejection from the Synod last week. In it, as I looked through it from the vantage point of 9 years later, gives me a different view than I had thought -that really, in their view, there was very little belief that I should ever enter the ministry full time.
The same thing came up two years ago, when after being in a study program for church eldership, I was essentially told "Not at this time". My first reaction, as my reaction 9 years ago, was anger - Here I was, someone who I thought was qualified (and who knew better than me!), being denied the opportunity to use my talents and my gifts!
Note the pronouns: I, my. Surprised I didn't append "for my glory" there.
The reality is, for any formal church ministry or for the opportunity I am putting on hold, where did I get the idea that it was my calling, my destiny to do these things? How did I come to understand this?
The reality is that God has provided me with a very financially rewarding and occasionally intellectually challenging career field. But, since it is not my primary field of interest (or even secondary, for that matter), I get "bored" with it and try and find anything to do but it. This can range from not mentally being "there" during work to that scourge of this present age, Surfing the 'Net.
What would happen if I simply did what I had been provided with - as Paul says in Colossians 3:23, "What you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men" or as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:10 "What ever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..." What restrains me?
Simply put, it's pride - the sense that I know better than God what my talents and gifts are and what I should be doing with them, instead of using them in the time and place of God's choosing. Do I truly treat Him as Lord, submitting in all things and waiting on His timing while I do what He has given me to do, or do I seek to use what He has given me to magnify myself and my life, and if I glorify Him, that's good too?
I believe it was attributed to GK Chesterson "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has never been tried." What would happen if I truly submitted to Christ, died to self, and was truly content with where he placed me? Probably not what I would wish to happen, true - but perhaps something different and better?