Friday, February 17, 2006

The One Thing I Am Sure Of

Yesterday was one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging days of this journey.


It was a day of being hurt and being comforted, being condemned and being restored, being filled with doubt and being inspired to continue forward. It's incredibly difficult to hear disappointment from those I love, care about, and respect. It's frustrating to be misunderstood - to have my motives and my heart questioned. It's confusing to know how to proceed forward when one part of the Church counsels one thing and another part of the Church counsel something else.

So I woke up this morning with a few guiding questions (remember yesterday's update? - "Let the Questions Drive the Journey"):

What is it that God has called me to do? Who is in alignment with what God has called me to do? What are a few things that I am sure of?

My worlds continue to collide in this "Hot Zone". Those are the questions I'm processing right now to help me figure out what to do next . . . .

I started the day with the Advisory Board to inform them that I was stepping away from the organization so that it can better serve our function of being a bridge builder - to catalyze a dialogue within the Church. I entered the meeting thinking that it would be a dialogue. They were pretty concerned about the path I'm taking - entertaining the notion that Christians can also be gay, and further, that I was living out such a "lifestyle". That meeting was anything but a dialogue. It was more like an intervention. They knew about the "gay" thing and the first red flag when I first walked in the door was the fact that no one offered the usual hugs (except for one handshake from the person that ended up presenting himself most hostile towards me, being the first one to speak out against me).

I'm not a baby Christian. I may have alot to learn in regards to knowledge of Church history, theology, and other intellectual things that make professor/pastor types feel like they have an excuse not to be humble. Sure, i'll admit that i'm naive to some of these things. But I'm not a baby Christian. For 13 1/2 years, i've learned to discern how the Lord speaks to me. For 13 1/2 years, the Lord has prepared and equipped me with past experiences and lessons learned to be able to walk the walk He's called me to. They may not agree with the direction I'm taking for my life but they have not seen or heard what I have discerned from Him. Regardless of how they feel or think about me, I must be faithful to those things that I discern from the Lord. I shall take His correction and counsel and guidance so that I can stay on His path - His Way, not theirs.

When God told Peter to go to Cornelius' house (Acts 10), I'm sure he was concerned about his fellow Jewish brothers back home about what they'd think of him entering the home of a Gentile. But they never saw the vision that God gave Peter - 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean'. Peter saw with his own eyes that salvation has come to those viewed as outcasts and he could not deny what God was doing among them.

Neither can I.

I have seen God moving and stirring in the GLBT community. I have seen fruits of the Spirit among the GLBT faith community - "gay Christians". I have seen them worship and I do not doubt their sincerity. I have also seen that I am not the only one being called in this direction. There are many "straight" pastors being called to GLBT ministry and/or to inclusive ministry. There are many "gay" pastors in non-inclusive ministries being called to be inclusive or to serve at inclusive ministries. They are taking the same "heat" that I am from people who have not seen what we have seen.

The Lord is here. That is the one thing that I am sure of.

I would suppose that those who don't understand our work assume that if the Lord is here among the GLBT community, then it must be to condemn us. That is not what I have seen. I have seen Him touch lives, restore hope, and cause His fruit to grow in them. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. No where on that list of spiritual fruits was heterosexuality. Rather, God is touching us to love each other more properly.

The Lord is here. That is the one thing that I am sure of.

Yesterday, there were people who don't understand what I'm called to counsel me with caution and/or redirection. They verbalize love and concern but do not offer it in lifestyle. They have not walked this journey with me. They would rather pass me off to someone else that they feel is "assigned" to walk this with me. They would rather express their concern but remain detached from being a part of the process. But, yesterday, there were also numerous people who do understand what I'm called to and their counsel to me is to proceed and be faithful to it. They verbalize love and concern but also offer a commitment to journey with me.

The caution does not fall on deaf ears. It keeps me alert to be sure of what God is calling me to do and leading me to do. I shall be faithful to it.

Here's the irony of this emotional rollercoaster of a week: I'm concluding this week at a four day conference with the theme of being a "Kingdom Builder". And yes, this conference is hosted by an inclusive ministry.

I've mentioned before that the GLBT faith community ought to move past the advocacy and be leaders in living out our faith in service to the city. The fruit will speak for itself. I don't need to fight for my right to be at the Lord's table. I already am. He invited me. He has also told me to go and invite others to the banquet.

That's precisely what I shall do.


Anonymous said...

Bro. Eric:

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. One thing I've learned in this journey of mine, which is so similar to yours in many ways, is that "dialogue" is almost impossible. How it wish it were not the case. Most of the church is so very concerned about even the possibility or hint of "accepting sin" that reaching out in love to others who are on different journeys or have come to differing theological understandings is nearly impossible. How I long for the day when all of the walls and barriers crumble and we are ALL free to worship Almighty God openly and honestly. Blessings my brother!

Rick (aka

Michael Dodd said...

I sympathize with Rick's feeling that dialogue may not yet be possible. It often feels that way. But what is possible, in any case, is for those of us on this journey to keep listening-- to those who do not understand us, to our own experience, to God. We may not yet be able to speak so as to be heard, or our partners may not be able yet to listen so as to hear. Let us never stop listening ourselves, though, so that we can hear the opening on the day the Spirit gives it, and then be ready with the words the Word will surely give.

You have probably heard that God never closes one door without opening another; but it can be cold and dark in the hallway. It doesn't, however, have to be lonely.

Blessings on the journey!

Vic Mansfield said...

Eric, a quote passed to me from a friend: "If the rewards are clear, but the call is vague: the devil is lurking. If the call is clear, but the rewards are vague, the Spirit is stalking."

Peace and Praeyrs to you.


The Rainbow Zebra said...

I see how God is working in your life, loud and clear. The anti-gay faction? Not so much.

God's Heretic said...

There are many of us who share your pain. I am a clergy in a mainline denomination. Almost 2 years ago I divorced my wife because I could no longer live with the deceit of who I was as a gay Christian and minister. While I came out to my wife, my sons and my family, I still have not come out to my church. I am still serving in ministry and am praying about how I proceed--even though proceeding will mean changes that I am not certain that I am ready to fully face. For most of my life, I was convinced that one could not be Christian and gay and through many years of praying and soul searching have come to a very different conclusion. I believe that the church is changing--albeit terribly slowly. But the more of us who take the courageous steps to open the conversation the sooner the walls will come down that divide. Peace be with you and my prayers are with you as you continue your journey.