The congregation kept singing, but I couldn’t. I just stood there alone in my row and shook with sobs I could only barely keep from being audible. I was alone because my family had stayed home that Sunday fighting head colds. I was sobbing because truth was hitting me in a very sensitive, yet very hungry, place. Fear can be a sin, and if we’ve been committing that sin in a big way, the moments that bring us to awareness tend also to be moments of overwhelming comfort. The conviction-comfort combo can just about knock you down.
At the time, I was a good five months into the most painful and terrifying period of my life (so far). Painful because, among other reasons, I was walking away not only from the pastorate I’d held for thirteen years but also from pastoral ministry in general (for the foreseeable future). Terrifying because time was running out on the (very generous!) severance pay and housing, and months of job-hunting and literally hundreds of job applications had produced no good leads. The job openings I was finding were mostly inadequate to provide what I knew we’d need for rent. But even these low-wage opportunities were failing to reach the interview stage.