The Apostle Paul speaks of living by faith in 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10. Here Paul seeks to set our minds on something more than earthly fear. Prior to this he reminds us that we are fragile and like jars of clay and yet held in the potter’s hands. At the end of chapter four and the beginning of chapter five isn’t looking to comfort people in the midst of fear. Rather, he seeks to embolden them with a sense of spiritual vision, purpose and protection. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” is his call to confidence in the Lord. Along with Paul, we know that living the life of faith is not a cakewalk. To be bold ambassadors of Christ in the world means that we have to have faith in what God is doing, even when (or perhaps especially when) we have fear.
As you can imagine answering a new call is surrounded by fear and anxiety. To leave a place of comfort and love to enter a new ministry takes courage but more importantly, faith. The song “We Walk By Faith” is based on this on chapter 5:7. I’m struck by verse three of this hymn:
3. Help then, O Lord, our unbelief,
and may our faith abound;
to call on you when you are near.
and seek where you are found:
It is important to trust that God is helping us in our unbelief and causing our faith to abound. Anytime I have conducted Ordination or Installation Services I have always highlighted the phrase, “I will with God’s help.” This dependence on God is what empowers us to step out in faith. That’s what it means to call on God and to seek God.
Being one week into a new ministry is not a lot of time. Much like newlyweds, everyone one is on their best behavior and the honeymoon is in full swing. Yet one of my greatest vocational fears has been answered. A few weeks ago I made the following post on Facebook:
Today was the first time in 20 years that I woke up on a Sunday morning and wasn’t the pastor of a congregation. I…
Over the course of this first week I was immersed in the life of The Tropical Florida Presbytery. Our Pastors Pause, Leadership Council and Committee on Ministry meetings all helped to allay the fear of losing my identity as a Pastor. For 20 years I have lived life as a congregational pastor and all that comes with. How would this new role change that identity? If I have seen one thing over this first week it is that what pastors and congregations need first and foremost is a pastor. By that I mean someone who is going to take time and foster relationships and trust. “The Presbytery” in our system hasn’t always been about loving and trust filled relationships. When talking about the congregation the Book of Order says:
G-1.0102 The Fellowship of the Congregation
The polity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presupposes the fellowship of women, men, and children united in covenant relationship with one another and with God through Jesus Christ. The organization rests on the fellowship and is not designed to work without trust and love.
This is my favorite passage from the Book of Order and what it says in regard to the congregation is true of the Presbytery. Polity presupposes fellowship and covenant relationship. Over this week I have seen how the commitment to fellowship and relationships is a real and present force in the life of Tropical Florida Presbytery. I don’t need to fear “not being a Pastor” because I am in fact still a pastor. The difference is that the flock I am serving is now comprised of Pastors and Congregations not individual families and one community.
Yes, I will need to adjust and discover new means of ministry and I have a lot to learn. Yet I know that if I lean on my Pastor’s heart and walk by faith, God will equip and use me for vibrant ministry. I still have fear and anxiety but I also am able to step out in courage because God is helping in my unbelief and causing faith to abound.
- What has been a recent time of walking by faith in your life?