I just re-read my birthday post from last year. I wanted to be in a completely different place than I was last year. And I am. We moved from the sweltering heat of Central Florida to the city of Medford—nestled in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. The temperature and terrain have changed. Instead of living a stones throw Tampa Bay, I’m now surrounded by mountains. I live on a street named for Mt McLoughlin (under another moniker). You can’t actually see its peak anywhere from my street, but on a clear day, two blocks away you can see its crest tower above the Cascades. It is a beautiful place to be.
In other ways, I am in the same place I was a year ago, still licking my wounds, smarting from a difficult ending to my first pastorate. My family moved to a city where there are no churches in the denomination I served. We knew no one in this city when we got here and I began drafting, a job I did in twenties, for my dad. I’m grateful for the work, but it feels like a vocational backward step, like my life and calling are locked in stasis. Or like I’m Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day. Same song, different day.
Because my working life is inside my house, in front of a computer screen, I feel cut off from real-time community. Outside of a few neighbors, school parents and church folk, we haven’t made a ton of connections. We’re attending a Methodist church in town, which has been a safe place for now, though I long for something more. I am still get excited about mission and justice and transforming community. My heart longs to do ministry that is Jesus centered, compelling and transformative. I have dreams: church planting, launching a non-profit, writing a book. I know I have gifts and I don’t believe God is done with me yet.
But fear and self doubt have settled into my soul in ways that have paralyzed me. I have shied from pursuing my life’s calling. I love the physical place where we are living but I don’t want to occupy the same existential terrain this time next year. I keep waiting for God or my gumption to shake me from my stupor to a place where I sense significance and belonging. I don’t want to write another angsty blog post next year.
Pentecost is tomorrow.Wonders and signs, blood, fire and billows of smoke.¹ Spirit of God fall fresh on me.