Saturday, January 1, 2011

And So It Begins

Most of you know by now that I resigned from a salaried pastoral position at the end of October. The church where I pastored, Chevis Oaks Baptist Church, was gracious enough to continue supporting us financially through the end of December. Well, we all know that the new year has come. As of today my only employment is some part-time janitorial work. That's not going to pay the bills by itself.

So this is where it begins. By that, I mean the test of our faith. So far it hasn't really been that tough. But now I have no idea how we will make our mortgage payment in February, etc. I know I should be thanking God for this trial, but I'll admit that I haven't been too appreciative so far. My prayer is that my attitude will change.

God has made clear that He will provide. The test is to believe and not be anxious.

Matthew 6:25-34 says, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Alice and I have chosen to believe that God will provide. We are not able to do this on our own power; even this faith is a gift. We are deeply thankful that God is gracious and merciful because our faith seemingly wavers from day-to-day.

When will this test/trial end? I have no idea. Employers aren't exactly knocking down my front door to get my job application.

I do know that I was supposed to resign from salaried ministry. I don't know where God's provision will come from.

I greatly appreciate your prayers at this time for faith, patience, and guidance.

Thank you!

8 comments:

Aussie John said...

Eric,

"When will this test/trial end?"

Never!

When the trials seem to be past in one area, maybe finance, they are often going on in others, for instance, in personal, or congregational relationships.

The one thing I can promise is that God is ALWAYS faithful to His own, and will ALWAYS provide the necessary where-with-all to endure, and come through in fine shape.

As Paul says,"I am not saying this because I am in any need, for I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in I know how to be humble, and I know how to prosper. In each and every situation I have learned the secret of being full and of going hungry, of having too much and of having too little. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Am praying for you and yours.

Eric said...

John,

Thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement. You are so right the the Lord is faithful. I know He will carry us through this. I look forward to the growth in us that He will cause through it. In turn, my hope is that we can be a blessing to others.

Jeff Nelson said...

Eric,

The test/trial has just begun. Why? You have decided to not just talk but walk. Many talk, few actually walk. You walked.

You will learn some things that God could not teach you as a salaried Clergyman. One day, people will say: "look what Eric did".

You can trust God to take care of you and your family. You won't starve, go without shelter or clothing.

I will be praying for you, Alice, Caroline, Mary and Bobby. May God be with you all. I have been following your walk for years, but haven't had time to comment as often as I would like.

Eric said...

Jeff,

Thank you so much for your encouragement. Trials are interesting things. I feel so inconsistent in my response to them. I'd like to be riding a spiritual high all the time, but the reality is otherwise. I do hope that my example will at least cause others to ask questions. Thanks again.

Joe G. said...

Hey, Eric -
I applaud your faith and have fond memories of working as a janitor myself in 1984-1985 while dropping in and out of seminary (finally dropped OUT for good) - we are Catholic converts. Good luck to you and hold on to your God-given common sense - things will work out, I'm sure.
- Joe G.

Eric said...

Joe G.,

Thanks so much for your kind words. God has always shown Himself to be faithful and I'm sure He will continue to do so. I'm trying to thank the Lord for this trial, but I'm not too good at it.

I appreciate your prayers. God bless.

bowdenblog said...

Eric, I came across a story today in a book I'm reading, and I thought I'd pass it along in hopes of offering some encouragement. Randy Alcorn, the author, writes, "Twenty years ago, on nine occasions I participated in peaceful, nonviolent civil disobedience in what was . . . an extremely unpopular cause--speaking up for the civil rights of unborn children. I briefly went to jail, and abortion clinics brought lawsuits against me and others. It seemed possible that if the lawsuits succeeded, the abortion clinics might take away our house and a good part of our monthly income. In the several years we found ourselves in the middle of this stressful situation, Nanci and I would talk with our daughters--eight and ten . . . . True, I was no longer able to serve as a pastor or make more than minimum wage."

I thought of your situation as I read this, Eric. While your specific reasons are different, yet you have a lot in common with this author: you both served as pastors, both took a dramatic stand based on what you believed God would have you do, and this decision affected you and your family and your career in sacraficial ways. Eric, know that the path of faith you are walking has been walked by others before you. God has always been faithful and will continue to be so. Fix your eyes on Him!

Eric said...

Andy,

Thank you very much for the encouragement. This has been quite a ride so far. I realize that this is nothing compared to what some Christians are facing around the world in places like Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, etc. However, it is still a challenge. I appreciate your kind words.