Sara and I are continuing through Blue Like Jazz and enjoying lots of wonderful observations. In one chapter he finds himself teaching a college group at a local congregation. He substituted one Sunday, only to turn out to become the college pastor the next few weeks because they liked his teaching so much. He describes a process too often repeated in people who have a heart for ministry in honest terms one rarely hears:
And he wasn’t kidding. After a year or more he discovers that his teaching has replaced his own relationship with God. In a quote worth the price of the whole book, he writes:
When he realizes how empty his life became while teaching a class that everyone loves, he goes to the pastor to resign saying he’s leaving for awhile. The pastor tries to talk him out of it, but Don knows something isn’t right and he needs to sort it out. He tries to explain to his befuddled leader why he is going away.
That’s what religion does to you. In pretending to be what we’re not we lose sight of who we are. How can recognize the presence of the Living God beckoning us to his life if we are so busy pretending to be what we think we should be instead of letting God have us just as we are. God doesn’t live in our fantasies. He lives in reality. Part of learning to see him clearly is emptying ourselves of all that we use to hide behind. It may be a painful process, but it will allow us to once again connect with the Father who loves us so much and who is the only one who can put our lives back together.