>There are times when the mind simply cannot comprehend the trauma that occurs to it. I remember experiencing a church split in 1997 and the years that followed. I kept my mind occupied concocting a story-line to try to understand it. The religious mind is particularly capable of this. "God is doing this.
" "God is doing that.
" "God is doing this because...
" "God isn't doing this because...
" Finding a story line or a thread of plot in the rubble somehow made it more manageable. It also, somehow, justified the incredible suffering I was experiencing. It wasn't just incomprehensible chaos. It helped it make sense. And this is something I crave: meaning.
Then a few years later I visited a pastor friend who had just gone through the same thing we did... a church split. Only this was worse: the church died. As I listened to his story, it reminded me of my attempts to make sense of it. In his intense pain, that I intimately understood, he was grasping for some kind of existential and spiritual meaning to this incredibly cruel and unjust crisis he was thrust into. He was looking for the story-line. He was hunting for plot. He was searching for meaning. Anything to make the suffering more comprehensible and therefore manageable.
Lisa and I were advised today to take a painful and drastic measure with our finances. This has been coming for years. I've known it was coming. We went to New Hampshire in 2002 to help another ministry start a church there and I was abruptly fired within 5 months. Lisa's dad died in our home the same week. Lisa got deathly ill and was bedridden for weeks. We had to leave the US and return to Canada. I mentioned it previously here
. Our kids were traumatized for months. Lisa eventually got better. But we never really recovered from the trauma fully. I said for years I would never pastor again. Until this church invited me again to be their pastor, I was prepared to limp along doing odd jobs. Those years of slow recovery put us so deep in the hole that we've finally come to a place where we have to do something about it. Something drastic. Something I've always feared.
I can't find the story-line. The plot is not clear to me at all. I can find no meaning. Why would God lead me, if he even did
lead me, from this beautiful church to start another one, only to be dismissed in the ugliest manner a few months later? Why would God let Lisa's father die prematurely in our home the day after I was fired? Why would God allow Lisa to get so sick that I thought I was going to lose her? Why would God allow our children to be so abused and traumatized in the church? Why the perpetual financial struggle that feels more like a curse than anything? Why? I don't understand. I don't know! And I don't think I'll ever know. No scenario, no matter how glorious or noble or spiritual comforts me anymore. So I've come to conclusion that sometimes all I can do is bow my head under the pressure of his heavy hand, bow before the dark mystery, and just renounce my mind's desperate desire for coherence. Sometimes, my search for meaning will be just that: a search. Sometimes God says I don't need to know.
But... there I go again... developing yet another plot to make sense of this turmoil I'm in.
The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Jorgen Klausen
. I included it just because it is beautiful, and I'm attracted to beauty.