Tending Fence

I enjoyed a quiet drive through the country today. One of most favorite things to do. I had my youngest daughter with me and I was pointing out different things and sharing some of my experiences growing up in the country. It wasn’t too long and she was engrossed in something on her phone, so I just moved to musing to myself.

I was struck by a particular sight that I’ve been mulling over. It seems like this was on my mind since the instant I saw it. A large acreage heavily fenced in…a well-worn path just inside the fence line obvious from daily trips tending to the fence…pastureland that has long passed from valuable and useful into a state of neglect and harboring weeds, thistles, saplings, and brush. A gently rolling landscape of what must have been, in the past, the pride and joy of someone…but has since devolved into just something ugly.

The thought came to me immediately that this is what has happened to the church in some places. So much attention has been paid to tending fence to keep in the flock and keep out the unwanted, that the vitality and beauty of the thing has turned ugly from neglect and distraction on lesser priorities. To the point that those who pass by have no interest of getting in any longer.

I remarked to my daughter that the owner needed to do some serious “brush hogging” and burning to save the value of his property.

Maybe God does, too.

In some places I’ve been told I’m not wanted, no longer valuable, not even to be a greeter or usher…certainly not to “minister” in any way. There have been times I’ve been tempted to just keep moving on and not give the church a second chance. But, I keep driving by, hoping against hope that one day I will find an open gate and a pastureland that is beautiful from its tending.

But, then again, I’m a country boy.

In Memoriam

In the absence of my own, here some good words from another.

Spiritual Friendship

Sunset on a country road

A month ago, just before sunset, I was out walking along a quiet rural road near my home when my phone rang.

“Are you sitting down?” My mother asked in a voice that clearly wasn’t normal. I wasn’t, but there wasn’t anywhere convenient to sit nearby, so I asked what was wrong anyway.

“Trent was killed in a car accident tonight.”

Trent is—I typed is out of habit, but now realize I must say was—my 18-year-old nephew. He was on his way home from studying with friends, and would have graduated from high school in just three weeks.

The day he died was also, as it happened, his mother’s birthday. Two days after Mother’s Day.

There is a before and after to grief: one minute, your life, and the lives of your family members are humming along in the ordinary way; the next moment, you enter a new and very…

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Clearing the air…kinda.

Today, I sent a FB message to those who I was pastoring when I screwed up. I admitted my sin and my failing. I admitted I failed them and God. I admitted that I really messed up the work God was doing through the efforts of our church plant. I admitted that I nearly lost my family in the process.

I asked for forgiveness.

It was therapeutic to my soul and mind. But more importantly, it was what God called me to do…sitting right there in church this morning.

Within just a few hours, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and forgiveness in expressive and gritty-honest replies. It is an amazing spectical of grace, mercy, and love the likes of which I have rarely witnessed to this point in my life…second only to that of my wife.

I recieved forgiveness….again; because, to a person, they all stated that they had forgiven me at the very beginning.

Simply…amazing!

I have felt God’s presence in my life in special ways the last few weeks. The loving presence of my wife, children, and a community of faith are some powerful avenues through which I am experiencing the love and presence of my Heavenly Father.

Does that mean that “it” has gone away and that I’m now “fixed?” No.

It simply means that I’m finally reaching a place to understand that God loves me just the way I am and that He can give me strength to live my life in such a way that He is glorified and His Church is strengthened. I’m understanding that through the loving actions of my family and friends. Although most don’t know that I had a gay affair or that I secretly identify as a gay Christian man in a mixed-orientation marriage, those of them that do have had loving reactions just as those who don’t.

So, yeah. Today I cleared the air with some dear friends.

Kinda.

-Trevor

Moving Past The “But”

Growing up, I learned God loved me. A whole lot. I was special, gifted, and He had a plan for my life.

Growing up, I learned that my family loved me. A whole lot. I was special, talented, and they had high hopes for me.

But…except…well, you see…there’s this little thing.

I could make God and my family love me more.

I just needed to try harder. I had to fit into the mysterious shaped hole in the human atmosphere that had been predetermined for me and left for me to struggle to discover and conform to. If I said the right things, did the right things, dressed in the right way, joined with the right people, claimed the right experiences, and avoided all the “wrongs” of those I would be loved more.

These days, I’m finding great freedom by relenquishing my hold on the “but.” I’m living in a freedom of just being me.

Well, at least to a point.

With God, nothing is hidden. I believe that God knows all about me, and nothing that He knows could possibly make Him love me any less. Period. Here, the “but” is nonexistent. No need to carry it.

With my family, many know all the good, bad, and ugly. And I believe they love me unconditionally in spite of all that. Others of my family, if they were to know all the bad and ugly stuff, would still love me, but that love would be strained and its expression forced. Here, the “but” is always in play. It is a constant.

I probably won’t ever be able to fully move past the “but” in this life. But, I believe, at the dawning of the next it will have faded into obscurity.

-Trevor