In the Enemy Camp…
Throughout the years, I have noticed distinct differences in my experiences in the corporate world versus the things I have experienced in the theological realm. I know that these two areas should be more aligned, but that is not what I have observed. When I first started in the corporate world many years ago, I didn’t care. Like many folks, I went to church on Sunday and checked the box that we had attended. It never got so bad that I went to church to be seen, or to make an impression, but there was something deep down inside me that caused me to want to attend – at least for many years of my life.
And then, come Monday morning, I was in a totally different place – the workplace. And all the things that I had heard or learned on Sunday were put on the back burner until next Sunday, when the ways of the corporate world would temporarily fade into the background – for a few short hours.
That all began to change in the late 1990’s. I was working in career transition ministry and had the first stirrings of wanting to acquire a theological education. For some reason, when I was at church working with Roger and Rich, my ministry partners, assisting those who were unemployed, I felt different – like we were really making a difference. This was a new feeling – and it felt great! But as good as that felt, it wasn’t nearly as gratifying as the way I felt when I started to attend seminary several years later.
I attended a local school and when I arrived on campus each morning, it was like entering a sanctuary as I drove into the parking lot. It became sacred space – like a curtain had parted and I was now in a safe place far from contact with the “real world” that I had spent so many years in. It was in this environment that I developed several very special relationships with like minded Christians who were classmates and we shared our journey together for three years. But each evening as I left campus, filled to the brim with theological education and communion with God, I felt anxious to return the next day. In fact, it became more and more difficult to deal with the daily grind outside school and it was one of my fondest desires that everyone could experience the closeness to God that I had during my years learning more about Him and entering into a more personal relationship with Him.
It’s now been more than a decade since my last formal seminary education and as I reflect back on my time in school with my classmates I realize how much I miss those days. I find now that I depend on myself more than I should – and sometimes I try to wrestle solutions to problems when inside I know better – my trust must be in the Father – first, last and always. Because God knows my needs, and Janet’s needs, and we must desire to trust Him for what is going to happen each and every day of our lives. Janet has always been a woman of exceedingly strong faith and I do well to listen to her words of encouragement when I temporarily forget who is really in control…
We are told in the Bible that the world as we know it is the dominion of Satan. Never have I felt that as strongly as I did when I was in seminary. And I need to stay in touch with devout Christians who can feed me as I try to feed others in the faith. Because working in the world, the enemy camp, can take its toll if you don’t take time to re-charge your batteries with a strong dose of faith and fellowship on a regular basis. And that’s easy to forget if you don’t pay attention to the leadings of the Holy Spirit.
Each Monday, three of us go to breakfast together and gets our tanks filled with the camaraderie of the others. It’s early, but a great way to start the week and adjust our minds and our hearts to be in the will of God as we touch the lives of people throughout the week. In fact, it’s the closest I have come to recreating the seminary experience and the three of us – Roger, Rich and I – have known each other for almost 20 years now. It’s a safe place, with authentic and genuine conversation – filled with Christian love for one another.
The verse for this evening is from the apostle John, recounting the words of Jesus Himself as He speaks to the Father. He tells us, in John 17:15-16, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
My encouragement tonight is that Jesus knows that it is difficult to exist in the world we live in. And He petitions His Father to protect us from evil. That’s wonderful news for us. My prayer is that you will surround yourself with a community of friends who will provide constant encouragement and steadfastness in your Christian walk. Because none of us can make it alone. God created us to live in fellowship with one another; and that’s still important for each of us. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…