I fell into a rut a few weeks ago – perhaps even many weeks ago.  I think the minimal face-face contact with people was getting to me.  I started contacting a few people to make a couple home visits but had to really push myself just to “dial” the phone.  This week, however, after the third straight visit ended with the individual saying to me, “Thanks, I really needed this,” I felt God raising me out of the rut.  So yesterday I formed two lists – one of potential baptisms and the other of people either newer to the faith or to STL – and started sending out texts.

I think I am being liberated from the rut.  Conversations are ongoing regarding at least 7 baptisms (every family I texted responded!) – and none of these are connected to the handful of expecting parents I know.  My second list has 25 names on it.  I stopped there because I was getting overwhelmed … which could have been something like climbing out of one rut and immediately falling into another.  However, as I am writing this, at least another five people have come into my mind.  Is God at work or what – and instead of falling into another rut he seems to be placing me on top of a mountain!

The baptisms will be for individuals aged from late teens to newborns.  They come from at least five different families – how exciting is that.  We will be doing private, family services for most of them.  Some are waiting until spring hoping that things will be loosened up.  A bonus along the way – not connected to the baptisms – is a junior confirmation for a special young lady.

And those other 25 – or thirty – or more … some are already members of the STL Ministry Team, but most are not.  We have a new Faith Connection Podcast I am encouraging them to open up.  The link on the STL webpage is https://www.stl-eastpointe.org/2020/10/10/faith-connection-podcast/.  We put our Faith Connection Workshop into 10 short monologues.  My prayer is that many of you will listen to them (yes, even long-time disciples of Jesus) … and that, perhaps, we can all get talking about our faith … and how God is raising all of us out of our ruts and making us into people who live in a hope that we share with others every day.

“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1.4-9)

I give thanks in many ways because of you.  You are the very people God has been using to pull me out of my rut.  You are his gifts of encouragement, challenge, and partnership to me.  I also give thanks in many ways for you.  You do not lack any gift … and I hope you know that faithfulness, hope, and enriched speech are among those gifts he has given you.  I will let you muse on your own about the other wonderful things on your ‘gifted list’.  This is some incredible fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord into which we – thankfully – have been called!

I read an interesting line the other day from John Kottler (Leading Change). He said a sense of urgency needs to accompany plans for changing anything significant.  I think the early stages of the pandemic created a “sense of urgency” in many of us.  And I praise God for many of the changes he has been working in me since.

However, way back in one of my first years in ministry, an aged mentor said to me, “Faithfulness is a long journey in the same direction.”  I believe that God intends for us to walk that journey not in a rut, but with eyes popping open at the new vistas he reveals each day.  I also believe that God is faithful (also in 2 Thessalonians 3.3) as he walks with you and me – us together – on this journey of escaping all the ruts we get ourselves into.

Thus, I am praying for God in Christ to raise you from whichever rut you may find yourself in today and to liberate you into the realization that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of human imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2.9)

Escaping the Rut