"If you build it, he will come"

I figured I was either a genius or a fool. I felt like Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. He built a baseball field in his corn field in Iowa. It was daring, risky, and completely illogical. In 2003, I had left a full-time ministry and I was taking a little time while looking for the next full-time ministry. I chose to spend that time in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and it seemed like fate or providence that I was given a chance to lead worship for a brand new church. I had a passion for just that kind of ministry ever since I helped start a new church in Texas in 1995. Earlier in 2003, I had been praying about moving back in that direction. Like Ray, I didn't know completely how I was going to do it. "Until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life." It wasn't long before this new ministry was the place I thought I should be. Because this type of ministry is not always so well funded, I was taking a risk. When I committed to stay, I was all-in. All of my chips were pushed to the middle of the table.

I always believed that God would take care of my needs when I put his Kingdom first. I really didn't worry much for a while. I kept at it, trying different career paths in marketing, teaching, and banking and a few other things. But I enjoyed that ministry. It felt like it fit me. It was a chance to do some things I had not done before, push the envelope, be on the cutting edge. More than ever, I felt like I was at my best. Some time after Ray had built the ball field in his corn, Shoeless Joe Jackson and several other deceased ball players showed up. Everybody was having a good time...

"Ease his pain"

Then the voice came back. Ray was enjoying playing baseball with these legendary players. He was smiling, getting ready to head back to the house when the voice gave him another non-specific message he could not ignore. It quickly changed his whole demeanor from joy to frustration. "I was having a good day, a fun day!" He wasn't 100 percent sure that it was all about the author Terrance Mann (if you don't know the movie, it's a long story), or why him, but he fired up the VW bus and hit the road to find him anyway.

By the spring of 2006, I was burned out. In every possible way, I had given all I had to give. I had nothing left spiritually, emotionally, or financially, and this sense of urgency led me to change direction in a big way. I saw the opportunity to invest in a stable career path in the area through a one-year degree program. The time commitment meant that I would have to give up my ministry, but my desire was to get this job on track so I could then be free to lead and serve regardless of whether I was being paid.

The new plan was exciting for while, but it was a lot of change in a relatively short time. Life would only get harder from there. I initially enjoyed the break from ministry responsibilities, but then I resented having to give it up. Even more, I resented the fact that I had given so many years to education and ministry only to find my life so drained, wondering if there was anything to show for it.

I had pursued my ministry with abandon, believing that God would meet my needs along the way. I thought I had already made all the big sacrifices and investments. I thought it was going to work just fine from here. But God would once again kick me out of my comfort zone. If these beliefs - and this circumstantial faith - was the last rope I was holding onto, it broke.

From my perspective, I could only conclude that God had not lived up to his promise to take care of me. When I looked at what he asked of me, what I did, and what I believed he would do, it looked like I had given my best to God, and he left me with nothing. I thought that if my needs were going to be met, I was going to have to do it myself. I always believed that God could do anything for me, it just didn't seem like he would. It's not so much that I stopped believing in God, I just didn't trust him anymore.