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I work at a church.

By: Scott
"I work at a church."

I say that statement all the time.  When someone asks me what I do for a living, I say:

"I work at a church."

Well now, isn't that something?  Can you just hear the passion in my voice?  Such a strong, bold statement when it comes to my life's calling!

"I work at a church."

As I type it, it even sounds boring.  I'm struck by what others must think about such a lifeless statement.  I mean, people expect a certain thing when they talk to a pastor or church employee.  I'm thinking, something along the lines of this:

Random Person: "Hey what do you do?"

Me:  "I get the absolute privilege and joy of serving a God who made me, a Savior who loves me, and a Spirit who moves in me every single day of my life!  My life is fantastic and a blessing!  Woohoo!  JEESSSSUUUUUUSSSSSS!!!!!"

Now, if this were to actually occur, I would have significantly less friends, and Raegan might stop taking me in public.  But let me let every non-church-employee out there in on a little secret: working in churches doesn't always feel like a joy.  Or a blessing.  Sometimes it feels like work.

But should it?

Today is one of those days that hits me hard as a young pastor-to-be.  In the past week, I've been confronted by families being torn apart, husbands and wives hitting dead ends, children with lives in danger -- not to mention offering counsel to coworkers as well as my fiance, planning a wedding that's less than 3 weeks away, taking on additional responsibilities at work, all on sleep that would generously be called "minimal".  This morning I woke up, and you know what?

I.  Was.  Whooped.

I wish every day felt like a joy, I really do.  I wish I felt God's blessing constantly in my office and in my commute and in my home.  But then days like today happen.  And everything seems to pile up.  And before it even begins, I feel like I've lost the fight.

And I know Raegan is being hit hard as well, which of course weighs on me.  How could it not.  As much as I trust God to shelter her and be with her on heavy days, the selfish man in me wants the comfort and healing to come from me.

And so I sat in my office this morning feeling nothing of joy, or blessing.  Just work.

What do you do when life feels like work?

Well for me, I play.  Not games.  Music.  There's this room in my church that has an old wall piano (wall pianos just always seem to have more character than their more "grand" brethren).  When I start to feel the weight of the world, I find this room, I sit down and I just play.  A lot of times, I don't even know what I'm playing, maybe just chords, maybe a song I heard on the radio that morning.  But this morning was different.  

There's a song by David Crowder, from his Remedy album, called "Never Let Go" (not to be confused with the Chris Tomlin ditty by the same name).  I sat down and began to play the signature melody line on the worn keys, closing my eyes and allowing myself to drift into the moment of experiencing that song in my own, quiet retreat.  As the lyrics came to me, I listened to the words leaving my lips.

When clouds veil sun
And disaster comes
Oh my soul

Oh my soul, indeed.  I felt like the sun was a long ways away, and my soul was feeling very "oh."

When waters rise
And hope takes flight
Oh my soul

The words washed over me.  I felt the wind on the high seas of these lyrics, heard the waves crashing, reminded myself of the story of Jesus and the disciples treading dangerous waters.  The fear that overcame even the students of Christ himself.

As I continued playing the song, I got chills from the lyrics and how much they were resonating with me. I was meeting God in that moment and he was speaking to me through my own voice. (That'll mess with your head a little)

And then I got to the bridge.

Oh what love!
Joy and Pain,
Sun and Rain,
You're the same,
You never let go.

Something happened that I didn't expect, but was obviously needed.  I cried.

Like a man, of course!  Wait, who am I kidding, men need to cry, more than we ever want to acknowledge.

I cried because I felt Him in the room with me, reminding me that even on a day like today, when I woke up and living felt like work, He was there.  He was there when I was born, when I got dumped the first time, when I won awards, when I lost championships, when I felt love, when I felt hurt, when I proposed to Raegan, and when I woke up this morning.  He was there.

Oh what love.

I lifted up in prayer all of the troubles that were weighing on my heart. 
The families hurting, 
The child in need of saving, 
The marriages in need of mending,

I lifted up Raegan as she sought his presence as well.

I lifted up our coming marriage, that we would not lose sight of the joy it brings.

I lifted up myself, and asked forgiveness for thinking for a moment that I could handle all of these burdens on my own.  That I could lean inwardly on a tired soul.

Oh what love.  He met me.  In that moment, on that piano, in those lyrics, He met me.  And He accepted my offer, He accepted my burden.

So yes, sometimes I "work" at a church.  There's no other word for it.

But days like today remind me that despite the heartache, the pain, the tears, and all the hurt that "working" in a church can bring, I also have a room...

with a piano

and old weathered keys

and God meets me there, whispering gently that I can find joy and blessing in a calling that sometimes feels like "work."

Because I don't work at a church.

I witness to children.
I share the message of Christ with new believers every week.
I counsel families who might otherwise be lost and broken beyond repair.
I serve the needy and forgotten.
I worship, if even quietly to myself, every day of the week.
I get to be a catalyst of faith for an entire community.

That's what I do for a living.

I just feel bad for the poor guy who asks me that question today.  Lord knows he won't hear,

"I work at a church."


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