Forty-six years ago, when I was a senior in high school, (I’m 63, in case you were doing the math) God and I entered into a pact, a covenant, if you will. More accurately, God set some terms, and I agreed to them. He told me that, if I would use my gifts, talents, and abilities to advance the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and to help Christians “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” then He would take care of me. He didn’t speak to me in an audible voice, but the reality of God’s call on my life would not have been greater nor more certain if He had.
My pilgrimage has been (to borrow the title of a Beatles’ song) a “long and winding road.” I have been exposed to and influenced by a number of Christian traditions. Each step of my pilgrimage has required me to jettison some elements which I determined to be inconsistent with authentic faith, but I never abandoned my commitment to orthodox doctrine or salvation through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross.
Along the way, I have come through some periods of time, some circumstances, where I could not clearly see what step I was supposed to take next. At those times, in those circumstances, I had no choice but to wait on God.
I’ve never been good at waiting. I get restless and fidgety. During those times, my prayers have probably sounded a lot like the guy who prayed, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it NOW!”
Until fairly recently, the periods of waiting were measured in days or weeks, and only very rarely, in a few months. I’m in another period of waiting right now, and this one is already nearly five years long… and counting.
Five years ago I was in my fourteenth year of teaching at a small Bible college in the free church tradition. I loved my job, and if the testimony of my former students and colleagues can be believed, I was pretty good at it.
About five years before that, my soul had begun to hunger for something which my pilgrimage up to that point had not provided. I began to read the early church fathers and to explore the character of Christian worship in the first centuries of church history. I gained a new awareness of the place of mystery and reverence in worship. I found meaning in the Daily Office (morning and evening prayers), and in the seasons of the church calendar. I gained a fresh appreciation for the importance of the Eucharist in the church’s worship, and I began seeking an experience of more holistic spirituality.