Life is full of revealing moments – times when we learn that we need to make changes in our skills, personality, or situation. I am experiencing one of those revealing moments. I am a fish out of water.
For nearly 50 years I have been in “full-time” ministry, either as a pastor or assistant. I did have to spend several short times working secular positions due to health issues and the finances attached to them. But they were something I did knowing it was temporary.
But now it’s different. For reasons I cannot explain here, I am no longer pastoring, nor am I working in a ministry full-time.
To be honest, I have never felt that the Bible supports the concept of retirement. But now that I am older, I realize that my body and mind cannot do what they did when I was younger – even in my fifties. My heart is still in ministry and helping people, especially those in ministry.
I began to wonder how God was in charge of my plans if He was taking me out of the stream of things. A fish needs water to swim.
Have you seen a fish taken out of water? We live near the ocean and when possible we go to the beach pier to fish. When my grown son recently went with me, he was the only one who caught anything (not unusual since I usually don’t catch anything, but my partners do). When he pulled the fish onto the pier deck to take it off the hook, it began to flip flop and struggle with everything it had.
When he unhooked it and dropped it to the deck of the pier, the fish flopped more then began to slow down as it became starved for oxygen. A fish gets its oxygen, therefore its life from the water going through its gills. The gills filter the oxygen from the water and therefore give life to the fish.
It is the same with those called of God to minister, preach, pastor, write, or some other type of vocational ministry. When we get out of ministry (our water, if you please) we begin to lose our lives. They are not fulfilled lives because God did not originally call us to be idle, nor did He call us to do other things.
At one point in my life I doubted that calling and tried my hand at being in business. I did a decent job in the business world and progressed into management. But there was no satisfaction and even more stress than pastoring struggling churches. It took a while, but I realized that I was the fish on the hook and out of the water. I needed the life-giving flow of ministry.
Now, my son and I were not fishing for big fish, just for the enjoyment of being together. We caught small spot and a couple other things, but we basically threw them all back into the water to swim away and be caught by someone else later.
One of the amazing things to watch was the fish being tossed down about twelve feet to the ocean waters. They were almost paralyzed, probably with fright. But when they hit the water, they took off and swam fast for the deeper water. They were “breathing” again and doing what they were born to do…swim.
When I was once again immersed in ministry and a pastor again, I did what I was born to do…live in partnership with God in my called and anointed task.
Now it is time to do it again.
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