I guess the thing God has really blown my mind with is the realization that He is truly "with" me whether it be in the darkest corners of my own heart or the mountains of His goodness as He works through and around me. I'm not sure what the average person thinks it's like to be a pastor (and yes, youth ministers are Pastors too). Some may think we spend our whole day praying, reading the Bible, and singing hymns. That Senior Pastor's mow their lawn in a suit, Music Pastors sit around the piano with their family nightly having sing-a-longs like "The Darlings" on Andy Griffith and Youth Pastors spend their free time thinking up crazy games or ways to stay relevant with the cool trends of the day. I apologize for my sarcasm but those things in themselves are not bad yet plastic in comparison to the raw need of fellowship, wisdom and guidance from God I crave on a personal level. Anything we do because we think people expect it of us is empty, religious and ritualistic (Isaiah 64:6). God knows our hearts and if our obedience, worship and sacrifice is true. No one talks about a pastor's heart that breaks for those who can do better but do not want to, for shots taken at pastors in order to stroke the ego and satisfy their own insecurities, or the constant yearning to make sure they are doing exactly what God has called them to do. You see, I have been in all of those places. I have had storms in my life like everyone else. At the end of the day, some have been false alarms and others have left me wrecked and scarred, yet stronger and wiser. The following passage has helped me deal with my storms and I pray that it speaks to you today: Isaiah 43:1-7
1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia[a] and Seba in your place. 4 Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. 5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west. 6 I will say to the north and south, ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. 7 Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.
When storms come into our lives, God has promised over and over in His word that He will be with us. Nothing touches us that God does not allow or equip us for. God brings us through storms to teach us dependence on Him. Really, would we see a need for God if our lives were perfect? There have been times where I wanted to leave God and He has proven that He has NEVER left me. I am stronger (not perfect) from the storms I have endured and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that more will come along. The question is not if, but when. I constantly hold on to "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord, your God".