From Double-Breasted to Blue Jeans

It’s Saturday and I don’t know what to do with myself.

For seventeen years running my weekend ritual has been to use the seventh day of the week to shut myself in the house, keep the TV turned off, and stay bent over the Word of God and the notes He had given me for Sunday’s sermon, tweaking them and generally whiling away the day in the Presence of the Spirit, my Teacher. Occasionally, my van and I would venture out to our “quiet time spot” and stay parked for hours on end, allowing the Eternal Word to filibuster my mind and the Third Person spark on the tinders of my soul until the man was set afire and given the Father’s ringing endorsement as a delivery service.

But it’s Saturday and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I am now a pastor without a congregation. My stained-glass memories will have to suffice and I find them helpful reminders that I am still a man with a call on his life though I do not know what my next assignment will be. So I steal a glance at my home’s all-too-familiar work station, where my sermon paraphernalia would normally have hijacked a section of the dining room table and my heart feels a little squeeze. Sandy’s table décor is still intact, the settings and centerpiece unmoved, no sign of Sunday anywhere.

As I remain fixed here in desultory reserve, questions of “what now?” and “what’s next?” pollinate my mental stigma and everything is…abnormal. Tomorrow a new pastor mounts the platform that has been home to me for nearly two decades and I sigh, not for him but for me. As a shepherd who has loved those sheep, I feel like an unfit parent, a papa with a rolling stone complex though I know this has been in the Plan for some time and my faithfulness in the pastoral role is not in question.

But still…

I chuckle now as I recall a conversation Sandy and I shared in our kitchen that set all these past seventeen years in motion.

“I think God is telling me that I am to be a pastor,” I said, watching for any reaction it might yield.

Sandy hesitated, then made a sound like hmmmmm…

“What?”

“What what?” she blinked.

“What are you thinking?”

“About?”

“About what I just said!”

“About you being a pastor?”

If duh was in my vocabulary back then, I would have used it.

“Yes.”

There was a long space of time then she turned away from the sink and looked straight into my eyes.

“I don’t think you have a pastor’s heart,” she confessed.

I knew she was right. I could sweep into Anytown for a few days, preach and engage for the short-term, then be on to the next assignment; it was how I was programmed, what I was built to do. In the in-betweens I would hide in my cave (home) and recharge my batteries until the next church, school or camp called. Using the metaphor of theater, it is fairly easy to be “on” for the performance (don’t read into that word) then exit the stage and disassociate quickly. Pastoring is a whole ‘nother animal altogether as it requires being “on” all the time, across the span of years, overly exposed, voluntarily observed, painstakingly involved.

I chuckle again as I am afforded the luxury now of looking back. There I sat on a tiny stage on one end of a rented church library, coiffed hair (I had more to kwoff back then) and double-breasted suit, shoes shined to military code and I looked out on maybe seventy or eighty folk who gathered on that brilliant sun-shiny Sunday to celebrate the birth of a fellowship. I, the veteran of hundreds of church services the previous ten years, often preaching before thousands, found myself nervous and uncomfortable preaching before tens. But the people were beaming. They were part of something new. And in my Hybels-slash-Warren eyes-bigger-than-reality dream state, I could only see us going up and up and up.

The next Sunday, reality fell like Damacles’ sword, and I preached to a crowd of twenty.

I’ve seen God add to those twenty through the years, but nothing that would jiggle Richter’s needle much and certainly nothing that would cause Hybels-slash-Warren to turn their dual heads in our direction. But the people love me and know that I love them and would lay my life down for them. They’ve gotten close enough to see the warts and gangrenous imperfections and I’ve let them. And I’m glad I did. I’ve held their babies, buried their mothers, shared their griefs (and they mine), lovingly rebuked, liberally encouraged and earnestly taught, both with my life and the opening of scriptures each week.

Last Sunday was my last as pastor in its official capacity. The house was full; I even saw several I hadn’t seen in a long time. They came to say, you’ve been very important in our lives, Scott. We want you to see us and know we are your crown of rejoicing…I tear up, receiving no praise for myself, but thankful I did, in fact, get a Grinch-like heart transplant. A very close friend wished this upon me: “I pray that when you leave this building today and drive off the parking lot, you will hear the sound of angels standing and applauding a job well done.” I think I did. And I know Who they were standing for.  

My pastorate ended on the anniversary of my pastorate’s beginning but with seventeen wonderful years packed between. I set out in a double-breasted suit and sat down in well-worn blue jeans. Perhaps that is a commentary on those years:  God gave me a pastor’s heart after all and got me comfortable in the call.

Well, it’s Saturday. I think the van and me’ll head on over to our “quiet time” spot and get before the Lord for the next few hours. I need to get ready for Tomorrow

8 thoughts on “From Double-Breasted to Blue Jeans

  1. Ackla933 says:

    Goodness. You know I tear up reading some of this.

    I think you should be a teacher, sorry, it’s “me or known as I” thinking out loud. I just think there is so much you can teach so many people. I still think I can keep on learning stuff from you personally.

    I replied to Mr. Grant’s daily devotional the other day. Not sure if you read my reply, but You held my attention all these years to God, well maybe not you exactly, but God used you to get my attention in so many ways.

    I thank God for that. I feel so blessed that he allows people to speak and get things through to others.

    I hope you and Sandy had a very restful time on your trip. Keep in touch. I pray for you all and Graham all the time. Continue to Be Blessed by THE GOOD LORD!! :o)

    Like

  2. KaKa says:

    I have checked everyday for this addition to the blog. Always holding my breath in case it was there. The finial conclusion I guess to what I already know had happen. And still I sit here in tears.
    What a work God is doing….And yes, even though the ending of a time in our life has come there is a new one just as exciting that will hold more ups and downs. As hard as it is, it is a good thing.
    I count myself so blessed to have been a part of those 17 years and the 10 before that and the many years to come.
    What has been put in motion can in no way be from anywhere but the Lord.
    It is hard to grieve and rejoice at the same time, but we as a body are doing it.
    God is doing something bigger than we are.
    Your right, God did give you Pastors heart.

    I love you my friend !

    Oh, and your warts……well, there not bad at all

    Like

  3. Alisa says:

    Dear Pasture Scott,

    Our hearts too, are still being squeezed, as we gather together each week knowing that you have been called away. There is NO denying the “heart of a Pastor” that the Lord has so gifted you with, that has been used to minister to me on many, many occasions over the years!! Pasture Scott, we look forward to where the Lord is leading you and Sandy, and look forward to serving along side on you in the physical and/ or in spirit only. I love you Pasture & thank God for the time my family & I have had with you!! May God bless you & keep you!

    In Christ’s love,
    Alisa

    Like

  4. Hello, Scott,

    I pray that the Lord will bless and keep you in all your endeavors. I read your blog just now, and I know God will continue to work through you. Seventeen years is about as lon as I’ve ever stayed in one place, and that was when I was growing up! The longest I ever stayed in one place was Parchment (just outside of Kalamazoo), MI, almost 11 years.

    I know the Lord has a place of service fro you, and am confident you will pass His next test with flying colors. The Lord bless you as you move forward in His service.

    He will direct your paths.

    In Christ, Walter

    Like

  5. marie says:

    Hi Pastor,

    As one who has known you (in person) for only three short years, I can say from my heart that the Lord has molded and shaped me through you. (I say “in person” because we’ve been praying for you for much longer than that as John would ask us to pray for you when your health deteriorated and other times when much prayer was needed.)🙂

    I remember the first time I ever heard you speak was at the annual Good Friday meeting at Central Baptist in the late 90’s or early 2000’s?? Your words brought me to a sobbing heap as they touched an unknown place inside of me and ministered to me in an unexplainable way.

    Yes, God has blessed you mightily with the spoken and written word. I know He will lift you up to heights never known before as you begin this new adventure in Faith. And He will show us and the world His great and mighty Ways as He works and wills in you according to His good pleasure.

    We love you and Sandy and pray God’s abundant Faith, Healing and Peace upon you.

    Marie

    Like

  6. Mic says:

    Scott,
    I love you man and miss you already! God is really starting to move things all over the world and I know He has a part in His plan for us all. I still feel very strongly about that word I gave you about writing. Please keep in touch, if for no other reason than to send me copies!🙂
    mic

    Like

  7. Alan Powell says:

    Scott,

    I just read your blog. I know that this had to be a heart wrenching time for you and Sandy. However, I know that our God has great things in store for you!

    I believe that this side of heaven you will never know the influence you have had on your flock. I can say that you have always been an encouragement to Michelle and I. Thank you!

    I will continue to pray for you. (Yes, I still consistantly pray for you)

    In Christ,
    Alan Powell

    Like

  8. Jerald says:

    Well, it’s Saturday again. And it’s exactly 6 months since you wrote this. How are you doing now? What’s up in Green Pastures land? What has God been showing you these last few months?
    I’m sure there are quite a few folks who’d like to know about ewe….:)

    Like

What Do YOU Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: