I gripped the railing on the 3rd floor landing of the nearly 100-year-old stairwell and was convinced that I was about to toss my Frosted Flakes clear down to the basement. It felt like my heart was going to pound right out of my chest, like the whole building was spinning, like I was never going to be able to live this one down. I was paralyzed in a state of panic. What to do? Where do I go? I don't even know where the heck I am! Why don't they have better signs in this place? Someone familiar? Anyone at all? I was just lost. That's it. And I hadn't felt that isolated, that helpless, and otherwise useless since my very first middle school dance. I just knew that they could all see it in my eyes - they could tell that I really didn't have a clue, that I probably didn't even belong here, and I began to think that they might be right. Maybe I should go? Maybe I could leave? Maybe I'd just walk out and never deal with that feeling again? Maybe, just maybe there was some way out of this. Heart racing, palms sweating, stomach writhing, questions swirling inside my mind,...then a moment of clarity. My eyes refocused on the floor (some 3 stories below me) and I took a deep breath and reminded myself that there really was no turning back. This is what I had come to do. This is where I was supposed to be. This is what my life consists of now. There is no turning back. Lost or not, I was there to stay. This, in the words of George McFly, was my "density."

In retrospect, it really wasn't that significant of an event, but getting completely and utterly lost on the first day of high school can be quite a traumatic experience for your average, lanky, insecure teenage boy. And lost I was. I was just trying to find English. My schedule told me it was on the 3rd floor of the "old building." (Note: the old building was appropriately named. It just so happened that my grandparents had gone to school in the same archaic structure - true story-mostly). So, like any good teenage boy, I jumped in the line of wanderers and walked up the stairs to the top and was shocked to find that my classroom wasn't there. The fear and anxiety was thick and heavy. I thought that I might be in the wrong building. I would never have enough time to walk to any of the other buildings and slip into class unnoticed. No, they would all know. They would all remind me for the rest of my high school career. In a few minutes, however, I did find my class, settled in just fine, wasn't ridiculed for the rest of high school (well, at least not for that, anyway), and I lived to fight another day. It always works that way doesn't it?

Some things just never change...

Yesterday, a few days more than 16 years later, our team of elders announced to our congregation that I was being mentored and developed and shepherded to assume the position as the senior leader of our church; that I was going to be the successor to our founding Pastor and faithful leader for 31 years. And as I sat there on the stage I couldn't help but sense that same feeling again. It's amusing to me, and a bit disheartening actually, that I still feel like the lost freshman on the first day of school; like a sheepish, awkward teenage boy trying to find a seat in a crowded lunch room; like the kid who maybe just doesn't "belong" here. When I think about all that is before me - the calling, the burden, the surrender, the commitment, I begin to feel the anxiety and the pressure and my heart pounds and by stomach turns, but then, like my moment on the stairwell 16 years ago, I sense the clarity that is so needed.

This is what I have been called to do. And faithful is he who called. This task before me is what God has prepared for me, and gifted and equipped me for. And it would be sin and rebellion to walk away from this. This is what the men who are responsible for leading me are telling me. I am going to listen to them as they lead me and trust that God is speaking through the elders of his church as the Scriptures lead us to believe. This is what my life will now be. This is "where" my life will now be. Me and my family (all of us) are in it for the haul. This is my cross to bear, and my blessing to experience. I may be young, may feel a little overwhelmed, I may feel at times like I'll never measure up, and I may unfortunately still feel like the lost kid on the 3rd floor landing just trying to find my stupid English class, but this is my "density." And as long as I am pursuing that calling with everything that I am, in the strength and power of Him who called me, then I guess I'm never really lost, now am I?

As this season progresses, I would invite you to join with me: praying for me and our elders, praying for our church, for a great harvest in the Capital Region of NY and around the world, praying that God would make the next season of our ministry more fruitful, more dynamic, more life-giving than the previous one. Come with me on this journey. Don't just observe what is happening here. Roll up your sleeves, dig in, and be our partners in the gospel. Join me here on this blog to learn with me as I prepare, to grow with me in my understanding and knowledge of God, His Son Jesus, and His beautiful Bride, the Church. And as this next season approaches for all of us, let us rest in the plan of a loving God who has prepared beforehand good works for us to do. And, by all means, let us remember that we are anything but lost.

1 comment:

  1. Amen Pastor Matt! I do believe you have a gift! And I am sure willing to pray that this season of Temple is a fruitfull one! I will be praying for you and your family as you adjust to this change, and for the elders of our church to lead us forward. As all Christians know, Jesus is our true leader..leading us to our loving Father. As long as we stand with Him, we can never be lost! Thank you so much for writting this blog. I enjoy reading it.