Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Carousel

Recently I heard a preacher refer to life as a pastor as similar to a carousel. There are highs that are followed quickly by lows, and the process repeats over and over again. This is without a doubt true. The pastorate offers some of the highest joys of the Christian life. We get the privilege of preaching the Word of God to the people of God. We get front row seats to the activity of God in the midst of His people. We get to see lives changed for eternity in ways that some church members rarely see. However, even the best pastors face unrealistic criticism. Criticism from the people of God, the people who should be laying aside the things and attitudes of this world for the joys of the next, that hurts. Facing the despair that comes from seeing death so closely so frequently, in the hospital and in the funeral home. Facing the crushing blow of seeing a new believer abandon Christ and return to the world. Seeing the defection of saints who should be mature simply growing cold and disappearing. Facing a job where we are completely dependent on the action of God for results, we are powerless to make anything happen. The pastorate is a difficult calling.

Yet I don't think that the carousel is limited only to the pastorate. I think that the carousel is experienced by every Christian. We know the joys of serving Jesus and seeing remarkable things happen and then our children go to college and turn from our faith. We all know the joy of an outstanding quiet time followed closely by a fall to temptation. We all know the joy of the presence of Christ followed by rejection by friends or family because of our faith in Christ.

The carousel is a universal Christian experience, that steady alternating drumbeat of joy and defeat. We all face it, but we all face it with the promise that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. We face the carousel with the promise that all those who love Christ will find that every tragedy will be for our good. We face the carousel with the knowledge that it will end, the carousel will end, we will die and enter the presence of our savior or He will return and we will be ushered into the perfection of His new creation, perfect embodied joy in His presence for time beyond time. The carousel is difficult but it is temporary. Cling to the joy that Christ gives us in this world and allow it to give you a hunger for the perfect joy of the next world, a world without the carousel.


Joshua Owen said...

Jamie, you have made some good points about the highs and lows of redeemed life in a fallen world. I wonder if mountain climbing might be a more apt analogy. A carousel just goes around in circles, never really getting anywhere. But as I understand the Christian life, we are being refined. Each trip to the furnace purifies us. We are never perfect, but we are making genuine progress by the grace of God. When one climbs a mountain the destination is some peak. You may go up and down many times before reaching the peak, but for the most part you are steadily climbing in an upward direction. I wonder if this might enhance the analogy of the carousel by including the idea of progress with the ups and downs. What are your thoughts?

Jamie Fugate said...

The carousel image was taken from a sermon by CJ Mahaney. It had a powerful impact on me, but the image is limited, only pointing to the cycle of heartbreak and joy. I agree the mountain imagery is more applicable and accurate, but if you're on the heartbreak side of the downturn it feels more like a carousel. I guess I exposed some of my human frailty.

Thanks for the reminder Josh, there is a goal that we are working toward, joy in Christ's presence for eternity and likeness to Him in this world.