Friday, December 22, 2006

Nicked Last Night - In the Nick of Time

Originally uploaded by bubba trout.
Lectio Divina scripture meditation happens every Thursday in our church. Jeff is usually our guide through the meditations. Last night was a smaller group than usual, but was one of the more remarkable nights recently.

Stef shared a personal story of God's deep and simple communication to her, which was life changing. It was such an impacting story that it caused the group to start the meditations about 40 minutes late, and to shorten our meditation time.

Jeff always reads out of The Message, so I can seldom remember the passages he reads. I do remember these words on the first short verse we considered, "He will help you in the nick of time." There was more to the passage, but that is the part I remember, because I considered those words, "in the nick of time."

When someone has had a couple years of serious trouble, it can be difficult to consider that God has come through in the nick of time.

I know that Stef's wonderful confession, and story of deliverance was a set up for bringing us all to a deeper point of openness. I did not see it coming toward me like it did.

I thought of our attempt to try and purchase a big infamous "black house" as an investment, only to discover that it had title problems at the last minute. We lost money on the attempted deal, and if ever I thought God might come through in the nick of time, I discovered I lost money and lots of wasted hard work instead. Where was God in the nick of time?

I thought of when our greyhound Annie was hit by a car ten feet in front of me while I was walking her. She died in the street while I knelt beside her. Where was God in the nick of time?

I spent well over six months defending my reputation, and our ministry against false accusations of heresy from a leader in our denomination. Time after time when I felt that God would vindicate us I discovered instead that I was ignored by those who had the authority to reverse the lies. In the end I was removed from our denomination after twenty years of service, and when I trusted God to speak to the leaders in the denomination, and vindicate our good name, I had to ask, "Where was God in the nick of time?"

When my son came down with a serious kidney disease, which still is life threatening, and is potentially demanding a kidney transplant for a 21 year old, I had to ask, "Where was God in the nick of time?"

When it was Halloween morning, and Forrest, one of our two newest greyhounds escaped the yard, because a friend left the gate open. I drove the nieghborhood trusting that my God would deliver him from death and injury on the road. I found him fifteen minutes later. He was hit by a car, and suffered sever injuries - losing one leg, nearly dying of liver failure from the trauma, and needing surgery on his remaining back leg. I asked, "Where was God in the nick of time."

I could only form my simple meditative prayer after five minutes considering this passage by saying, "Lord our family has suffered great difficulty in the last two years. I have felt as though you were not there in the nick of time. Please help to understand that it is still true that you come through in the nick of time."

Pastors probably aren't supposed to pray such confessions before their parishoners. Well at least not in the denomination I came from. But then again, I'm not like them anymore. I suppose I got out in the nick of time.


Anonymous said...

In the nick of time..... An interesting concept when you think about biblical statements about Gods perception of time. A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day (probably a very bad paraphrase). Not sure which bit of the Message you were reading. Psalm 107 sems to have quite a few examples of 'in the nick of time'. Then there's Job 26, John 21, 2 Corinthians 6.... at least, that's what I've found on Bible Gateway.

So tell me why a Pastor can't pray such confessions. Within shamanism there is the concept of the wounded healer..... the shaman constantly works through his/her own need for healing, and in turn learns how to heal others. This idea of a Pastor not experiencing the hardships of the world and not being able to speak to God about them 9publically) strikes me as a bit odd. I wonder if it has its roots in Catholicism and the notion that the Pontiff only speaks from God. (Again, probably a gap in my understanding and knowledge there). Where in Christian theology/scripture/whatever does it say that a pastor ceases to have the same struggles as everyone else with the same difficulty in understanding the whys of those struggles? Possibly another gap in my knowledge and understanding of Christianity there. Or maybe not.



Pastor Phil said...

Why can't pastors pray confessions before their congregants? because they have been taught this silly corporate model, which demands looking strong all the time. Phooey.

I've been suggesting there are some dynamics of Shamanic leadership which need to be considered for today's pastors - and I am not the only one. There are people writing about this stuff.

carl said...

Yeah... "in the nick of time". I interpret that as God stopping whatever is trying us before it completely breaks us spiritually. He knows how much we can handle and He tends to (in my experience) wait to the last minute AKA "in the nick of time" to alleviate it. Crap will happen there is no escaping it. I don't know why but that's because my brain can't comprehend the mystery of God's will and why He lets stuff happen, still we trust Him.

And I am all for pastors confessing their struggles. You're a pastor because that is what God has called and equipped you to be, not because you don't struggle. phooey indeed!

Pastor Phil said...

Carl, great word. The nick of time is definitely something to do with our transformation, and strengthening and not our comfort, or even our personal sense of peace.

Grace at you bro! and Merry Christmas.


Webb Kline said...

Church is too often the temple of the facade. We pretend everything is fine, because everyone pretends to be fine. When we do dare to wear our trials on our sleeves, the support is shallow if at all.

Good leadership, in my opinion, should be totally honest with their struggles. How else can a church break their propensity for emotional dishonesty?

There are a billion people on this planet who are facing some of the worst humanitarian injustices imaginable, who have been abandoned or ignored in the midst of their despair by the majority of believers. But, I suppose that when we don't even know how to deal with those within our own congregations when trials beset folks, how could we be expected to care for the really desperate? Yet, we so easily come to the cause of building a new 50 million dollar Sunday morning activity trap for ourselves, or when we see the opportunity to slay our own. Abject hypocrisy.

There is a lot that is going to have to happen before the Bride has prepared herself for the wedding feast, I fear. One of the first things, I believe, is for us to return to a place of healing, comfort and compassion.

Pastor Phil said...

One of the guys in our church made the comment the other day that Bride of Christ has been acting like a whore.

Sad, but so poignant I had to laugh and agree. Of course, I am part of that problem often. I will be posting some more thoughts about that at Square No More in a couple days, as I process my thoughts, but your post reminded me of the moment with Hank on Sunday Morning.

Adam Gonnerman said...

Over the past two years I wondered where God was. It was hard. This "nick of time" must be a paraphrase, because I can't find it in my Bible.

I've come to believe that God was with me, even in my unbelief, and never left me. For whatever reason, I had to go through what I went through. Not that it was predestined or foreordained. It's hard to explain.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Adam,

"in the nick of time" came from The Message by Eugene Petersen - somewhere in the Psalms.

I'm with you on not wanting to call my troubles foreordained. I'd hate to say God called some of these Christians to behave the way they did, or that my responses were designed by God.

Zach said...

One of the hardest verses for me is the one in Romans and Paul says, everything works out for the good of those who love God, and so on and so forth.

Because let's be honest about it: nothing really seems to work out for the good. At least, not our perception of "the good" is, or should be, or what we want it to be.

But faith never promised to be easy. Jesus himself never said, "believe in me and coast through life like a chump."

I know you know all this in your heart. But sometimes, it takes someone else telling you that they're touching the same piece of glass before you realize that you're truly not alone.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Zach,

Thanks - maybe we should share crutches along the way.

Matt Stone said...

Thanks for being real

Pastor Phil said...

"'What is real?' said the rabbit to the skinhorse."

I'm just trying to move a little bit closer to real.

Thanks Matt