I’m back at the lake once again, however this time I’m not here to “drift.” This time I’m working, or, at least, getting ready for work. This weekend we are bringing 20 teens from my youth group out to the cabin for a weekend of mayhem fun. So my wife and I came out to clean up the place so that 20 teens can destroy it again enjoy it in tranquility. This weekend, and this trip with 20 teens, will mark the end of nearly eight years of youth ministry (all of them at Willowlake). Eight years of one ministry coming to a close, while I’m already one year into a new ministry, and all after never believing I’d be in ministry at all.
In the fall of 2007 my (now) wife, Katie, and I had just begun dating. I was one year into a Youth Leadership and Biblical & Theological Studies degree at Providence University College. I thought I wanted to be in ministry – I thought I could help teens. But then I began to doubt. “It feels like maybe I’m just trying to pay penance for my past,” I said to Katie on the phone one night in October. “I don’t think I’m actually ‘called’ to ministry.” The next day I went to the school to retrieve my mail, and inside the mailbox, mixed among the late bills and C- papers returned to me from my gracious professors, was a note from one of the school’s offices: Call Mark at Willowlake Baptist Church. I didn’t know who Mark was. I didn’t know where Willowlake Baptist Church was. I had no idea what they could want from me.
I called Mark from my little flip phone as I walked across the gravel parking lot, making my way to my rusting out truck. I remember the strong prairie fall winds whipping through the mic on the phone, causing loud crackling of air in the phone’s speaker as it rang. Mark picked up the phone, and I told him I was asked to call him. “Thanks, Mike. I’m the pastor at a church in Winnipeg, and we are looking for a youth minister. Somebody gave me your name. I was wondering if you would like to interview for the position?” I stopped mid-stride, the cold fall wind blowing through my silence…
Somewhere around 15 hours after expressing doubts in my call to ministry I had a literal call to ministry. This weekend will mark nearly 8 years of what I often refer to as, “My accidental ministry.” But it was no accident. Just because I wasn’t in control doesn’t mean it was a fluke, or accident; it doesn’t mean that this was just some sort of random coincidence that happens 1 time out of every 2,305,487 in the universe. I wasn’t in control – I doubted my very call – I admitted I wasn’t in control. But, God was.
Last week, in Drifting – Part I, I wrote that:
“Drifting” in life usually isn’t referred to as a good thing. Especially in our fast paced lives! It conveys a sense of no plan, and no ambition. It conveys a sense of no control!
Maybe we fill our lives with so much busyness because it gives us a false sense of being in control. Drifting is the opposite of being in control. You’re just sitting there, trusting and hoping.
Maybe drifting isn’t such a bad thing…
In October of 2007 I was drifting. I wasn’t in control, and I knew that; I just hadn’t realized that God was in control. Sometimes I still forget that valuable lesson. But, here’s the thing: being a follower of Jesus means just that – you follow. You admit that you are not in control. You learn to drift – to take your hands off the controls and learn to trust that even though it often doesn’t seem to make sense, when you follow God obediently He will lead you to things you’ve never even expected.
It didn’t make sense in the fall of 2006 for me to enter a Christian college. Three months earlier I had been busy going on days-long drug & alcohol-fuelled binges. I had overdosed twice just that spring. Then, three months after Jesus found me, I’m off to a Christian college. That doesn’t make sense, at least not to the common sense world around us. It doesn’t make sense that just over a year later a church would ask me to watch over their young people, keep them safe, and teach them about God. It doesn’t make sense that eight years later that same church would ask me to be their lead pastor. It doesn’t make sense that other churches ask me to speak at their retreats, or preach in their services, and it doesn’t make sense that people read the words that I write. But yet good things come from all of these things. Why? Drifting.
Drifting is all about letting go of control – it’s about admitting that you’re not in control. Again, it’s the opposite of being in control. You’re just sitting there, trusting and hoping. It’s about faith in the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit pushing you along to exactly where you need to go.
Drifting – giving up control – isn’t about doing nothing. It’s about doing something when it doesn’t make sense. Drifting is all about obedience to what God is calling you to even though you can’t possibly understand how it will work out. Drifting is all about obedience to what God is call you to even though you know exactly how it will end. Imagine what it was like for Paul and the disciples to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, knowing full well that it would end in their own suffering. Yet they gave up control, and placed their trust in God, proclaiming the message of Jesus, trusting in the Holy Spirit pushing them along.
Imagine how many amazing things in the Kingdom of God so many of us have said “no” to because it didn’t make sense, or because it might cost us too much. Imagine what could have been if we had just learned long ago that we aren’t called to be in control, but instead we are asked to give up control and be obedient to the call.
What is God calling you to when you pray? What do you feel God speaking to you but just doesn’t make any sense at all? Eugene Peterson says that praying is the most dangerous thing we can do because through it God calls us to things and places we could never even imagine. He’s exactly right, too. Drifting is about so much more than just learning to slow down in this fast-paced world. It’s about learning to give up control, listen for the voice of God, and move in obedience when He calls you.
Drifting is the opposite of being in control. You’re just sitting there, trusting and hoping.
Drifting isn’t such a bad thing…