I am becoming increasingly convinced that most answers to our deep questions come in counter-intuitive forms. And you'd expect that since we believe in Grace.
What do I mean? Let's say I have a question to answer, or an issue to solve, or something deep and conflicting within my heart that I need resolved. Here is a path I could try:
A. Discern the most intuitive answer, and then...I want revenge, so I'll seek forgiveness.
B. Do the exact opposite.
I think shopping will make the pain go, so I'll give away that which I hold most dear.
I want to set more boundaries, so I'll say Yes more often.
I want to be first, so I'll plan on being the last.
I want to be great, so I'll plan on being a slave.
I want pleasure, so I'll choose pain.
I want to live, so I'll choose the Cross.
In the spirit of counter-intuition, I offer this reflection for those who are tired in ministry:
From Philip Yancey’s Reaching for the Invisible God .
My Pastor in Chicago, Bill Leslie, said he often felt like an old hand-operated water pump, the kind still found in some camp grounds. Everyone who came to him for help would pump vigorously a few times, and each time he felt something drain out of him. Ultimately he reached a place of spiritual emptiness, with nothing more to give. He felt dry, desiccated. In the midst of this period, Bill went on a weeklong retreat and bared his soul to a spiritual director. He expected her to offer soothing words about what a sacrificial, unselfish person he was, and then perhaps to recommend a sabbatical. Instead, she said:
"Bill, there’s only one thing to do if your reservoir runs dry. You’ve got to go deeper."
He returned from that retreat convinced that his faith depended less on his outer journey of life and ministry than on his inner journey towards spiritual depth.
Pic taken by Brian U on Flickr.