Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Twenty Years Later...

I'm sitting in my office, looking out on yet another dark and rainy day in the metro Detroit area. It reminds me of so many days back in Scotland, twenty years ago. Yes, it has been twenty years now since I returned from Scotland to live in the US. I left a lot of friends behind, but I had learned that I wasn't a very good missionary. I didn't have the personal or organizational skills to do the work effectively and, certainly, didn't have training. I went because I loved Scotland and the people. I still do.

And now we have been Stateside for twenty years. Hard to believe, really. I came back to the States determined to be a faithful member -- but never a minister -- of the church. I had had to face some hard things about myself and they revealed that I didn't have the skills or personality to be a minister. But God wouldn't let me go. Time after time I took other jobs only to have to call back and say "sorry, but I need to do this ministry a little longer..." It was ten years ago when I finally realized that God wasn't going to let me leave the ministry. I gave in to His will, even though, deep in my heart, I am shocked He would use me as anything other than a bad example.

And He blessed me. Oh, how He blessed me! I have a wonderful wife, two faithful, godly children who are much, much better people than I ever was. I have twenty years of successful ministries behind me. I served in Lancaster, Ohio for nine years and stay in touch with many of them. I served next in Morgantown, WV for eight years and just got back from a vacation with many of them. We are still the closest of friends. I had one year on the waterfront in South Carolina before God made it plain that we were to come to Rochester. What a strange trip it has been!

I am in awe of God. I was an unexceptional boy who made unexceptional grades in unexceptional schools. I grew up to be a broken man held together by God's duct tape and nothing more. And yet.... and yet... look what God did with it all.

If He turned against me tomorrow, He would still be good; He would have still blessed me far beyond my expectations. But I don't expect Him to turn against me. What He could not do to me via law, guilt, pain, or obligation He did through love: He won my heart.

So I will sit by the window and think of the road and say, quietly, "Thank you, Father."

12 Comments:

At 1/17/2006 02:07:00 PM , Blogger David U said...

Patrick, the wonderful thing is that all of us can find ourselves somewhere in your story.....and in everybody else's story also. Why? Because they ALL have a common theme of what God has done amongst us and with us! Thanks so much for your humble heart, and for sharing your life with us. It is humbling!

I am proud to walk with you, as both of us walk with HIM!

DU

 
At 1/17/2006 05:13:00 PM , Blogger MAK said...

Patrick, did you know someone named Laura Blue in Morgantown? I knew her parents in Va. and they "adopted" our family when we were there. I don't know how many churches there are in Morgantown just thought I would ask!

 
At 1/17/2006 06:37:00 PM , Blogger That Girl said...

Why don't you see if he's interested in sending you to Alabama?!

 
At 1/17/2006 06:43:00 PM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

Yes, we knew the Blues. They are wonderful people, now living in Nashville.

As for Alabama, no, the Lord hasn't said anything yet!

 
At 1/17/2006 08:46:00 PM , Blogger Amy said...

I echo David U's sentiments and share much in common with what you wrote. Except for it's ministry spouse rather than minister.

I often scratch my head and wonder what in the world I'm doing in ministry - certainly not something I sought out. But God is faithful to us, isn't He?

Thank you for your many encouraging posts like this one.

 
At 1/17/2006 10:36:00 PM , Blogger JD said...

Looking backwards brings such clarity. If only we could have it looking forwards. I seldom have it looking at right now. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

 
At 1/18/2006 03:19:00 AM , Anonymous renee cutts said...

"What He could not do to me via law, guilt, pain, or obligation He did through love: He won my heart."

That portion of your post helped me considerably. Sometimes in trying to work with people who are in need of God, I feel compelled to point out the truth, the law and guilt and the pain thinking the process of cross-examination will surely convince a person to have a change of heart.

I'm learning the hard way that approach wins very few hearts to God. I'm learning I have to love people before they are loveable. There is a time and place for tough love but you have to have love first for that to work, the tough without the love fails miserably because there was never anything to lose.

I'm learning I can't start by quoting scripture passages to them, they bounce it right back at me quite indignantly. The spiritual things that make so much sense to me are nonsense to them. Try this with a cutting Goth Satanist sometime if you want the fast start lesson! I have to speak the only language that can break through the darkness, the language of love.

Love opens their doors a crack so God can get in but He was knocking before I arrived on the scene. I can't even take credit for the love because without His love in me I wouldn't want anything to do with them. Then I watch as God begins to expose their sins by self examination not by any efforts of my cross examination.

I have to be able to reflect the love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness that Christ showed to the lepers, the tortured, the diseased, the doubters, the despised, the accused, the thief on the cross next to Him and to me.

With the most pitiful of humanity, He didn't drag up the past, he didn't point out the law, he didn't pass judgement, he simply healed and forgave. He pointed out the law to those that lived by the law, he reminded the self- righteous of their pasts, he passed judgement on the judgemental.

I've often wondered if Jesus, that day, when confronted with a woman guilty and deserving of being stoned to death by the law, wrote out the secret sins only He had the ability to know of the individuals standing ready with stones in hand and as each bent over to see what he wrote, seeing their sin in the sand they had to drop the stone.

I think I have a difficult time not only with those on the outside, but as much, if not more, with those on the inside of the church. And sometimes I am my own worst enemy in self examination.

On all counts we need to take joy in knowing that we are the forgiven and remember our victory was won by another's love not by our ability to abide by the law. We all fail in ability but love never fails. Thanks for putting it in a nutshell for me. I sure wish I could do that, (as I'm sure a lot of you wish I could, too.) You are a blessing!

 
At 1/18/2006 02:24:00 PM , Blogger Kirsten said...

Oh how this made me cry today, and oh how I needed it. It is the desire of my heart that one day I will sit with much the same reflection that you now do; in awe of God still and thankful for a life beyond what I would have thought of or asked.
Wow, am I glad God did see fit to bring you to Rochester :-)

 
At 1/18/2006 04:22:00 PM , Blogger Laurie said...

Patrick:

Thank you for your post today. Being a cracked and broken person myself, it is only God who could have done anything with the mess I made. God has given me a husband who is a far better person than I, so I completely understand that feeling of gratitude and awe.

Because of the cross. Laurie

 
At 1/18/2006 04:42:00 PM , Blogger Lynda Bee said...

Amen brother!

I'd much rather remember where I am - than where I came from. Yuck! Only because He loved me.

Sidenote to Renee Cutts: Thank you for that "mind picture" of what Jesus may have been writing in the sand. Just a reminder of what He's done for us - and how we shouldn't be passing judgment on others.

God Bless!

Bee

 
At 1/19/2006 07:20:00 AM , Blogger Jesse said...

Wow, you have a very interesting history behind you!

 
At 1/20/2006 12:49:00 AM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

Thanks for sharing, Patrick. I really needed to read that last part of your post. Thank you for allowing God to use you.

 

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