Going Forward: The Evidence of the End of a Season

6 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.And he went about among the villages teaching.7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.[a] 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. –Mark 6:1-13, ESV

It is one of the greatest challenges of life–change. Change provides so many opportunities to experience a wide range of emotions. It is without a doubt the most difficult set of circumstances to navigate in life. Depending on the situation, change provides excitement for a future without limits. Change can also be a strong reminder that old things are gone.

This week, I am personally experiencing multiple levels of change at one time. I am beginning a second appointment to pastor a local congregation in the city of Columbus–Clair United Methodist Church. On some levels, it was a shock and welcomed opportunity presented by the West Ohio Conference under the leadership of Bishop Gregory Palmer. I am forever grateful for the chance to use my gifts and calling.

However, I have found myself dealing with the unnerving emotions of my own inadequacies. I am to meet the membership of Clair today. I would be less the authentic, real, and honest if I did state that I began feeling nervous. Nervous about my call? No. Nervous about my gifting and skill? No. Nervous about being received? 100% Yes!

I still feel the sting of my past experiences. Wesley Church of Hope has been such a blessing to me and my family in our healing process. Nobody has pressed about anything outrageous. They have allowed me to be husband and father first. That order has made me a better pastor. They have given me support that I didn’t see coming. These past six months have been the easiest time of pastoring I have ever experienced. Along with that, I have been able to just be me.

So why be nervous now? I finally came to a conclusion. I still have dust. Go with me for a moment.

I know that I am growing in grace day by day. It is evident even when I feel like I am going nowhere. I realize that God is still granting new mercies. I know that I am not the same person I was. Yet, I feel the sting of the past days of not being accepted for who I am truly. (I know I just wrote about validation from God in the last post.)

The truth is that I just arrived at the place to be good with myself. No point in lying. I am finally alright with being a nerd at heart. I appreciate being more vocal with my pen or keyboard than my voice. I like that I am a big man with a soft heart. I am cool being petty (Fun, comical petty not petty petty). I have value and worth to the world.

Nevertheless, I realize that I have not always kicked the dust off of my past experiences or roads traveled. I still feel the sting of people thinking my leadership or vision was beneath them. I get angry at the thought of being made to think that I am less than in anyway. I feel that twinge when I hear limitations in their voice. I am reminded of every superficial comment hurled in my direction. It still bring heat to my soul.

Then God impressed the text above on my spirit. I was reminded that Jesus was not accepted everywhere including his hometown. That comforted me some, but it did not change my approach to my own feelings. It is when Jesus taught a simple thing about moving forward that my soul finally got peace.

Jesus told the disciples that they had a mission. This mission would provide the opportunity to change people and environments. The mission would save, heal, and equip. The mission was not about being monetized or anything else. The mission was to advance a promote a Kingdom not of this world within this world.

The mission was so great that Jesus gave a simple mandate to stay focused. If people welcome you/embrace you, you stick around. If you are not welcomed or embraced, don’t waste time proving you belong. Dust your feet and keep moving. When you do that, your moving forward will indict their unwillingness to embrace you (gift, peace, etc).

We can become prisoners of everything that comes our way. We can be imprisoned by opinions, problems, and issues so much that we miss out on being productive and useful in our purpose and mission. I am a living witness of that. We become so consumed with trying to prove to people that we belong in this space that we do not realize that rejection might be the gateway to greater opportunity.

I was not accepted in my “home” (Baptist church). I tried to prove my worth and value to people that did not deserve the time. It took two years to come back to the realization that God called me to Kingdom work not a denomination. God called me to be present and a voice, not to be a doormat or an option. God did not call you to just be a person. God called you to greater. The moment you realize that, you will stop attempting to defend who and what you are to condition unfit to embrace it.

This post is not about arrogance and ego. It is about reminding you that God fools with you. (S/O to my boy Derrick–www.revderrickholmes.com) God wants you and I to remember that we have not be given so much to allow it to be subjected strictly by the opinions of others. We are called to be progressive in thought, process, speech, and actions. The season for worry is over. The new season of opportunity has come.