Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
- Psalm 25:20-21 (excerpt)
Being called as a minister of God is a treacherous thing. We are not intent on winning friends and influencing people, but nor are we seeking to make enemies. We come instead with words of hope and life that have given us joy without measure, which at times sear the wandering soul and its want of boundary-less roaming. Our proclamation of and commitment to a God that administers both judgment and mercy confounds our human sensibilities; and congregations, communities, and corporations sometimes shudder at the reverberating sound of voices calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord!”
Ministers of the gospel know the all too grim realities of living without shelter, without an arbor under which to find respite from the storm. Their reputations matter little to their foes and their wellbeing even less. In the throws of mounting obstacles, a strong moral compass sustains their livelihood and their ministries. Yet, morality alone cannot provide the instruction, faithfulness, honor, and protection found in the presence of the Living God. This God invites us into the terrifyingly holy place of his Presence.
Presence in which he instructs those who fear him. Presence in which the faithfulness of friendship may be found. Presence in which deliverance is granted and shame holds no power. Presence in which we are justified and redeemed. Presence in which there remain no terrors of darkness or death of day. Presence in which protection, honor, and salvation are granted.
It is in this Holy Presence alone that we find satisfaction when all presses around us, threatening and condemning, betraying and abandoning. In this Presence, the life of the suffering faithful find shelter.
Our God, we run to you, asking for protection. We are weary. We are beaten down. Our souls and bodies need Your hand to teach us and remind us that we are Yours alone. Come, Lord Jesus, and remind us that we are not abandoned.
Jennifer L. Aycock is a freelance writer for McCormick Theological Seminary.