When Did My Faith Become A Job That Sucks?


Mitch Elliott looked pretty in pink when I stopped to

Mitch Elliot, Madison Mallards left fielder.

talk to him. That Sunday afternoon included a lot of firsts.

My first visit to Warner Park, home of the Madison Mallards (Doesn’t that name send a chill down your spine? Scary! Yeah, right.). His first day as a Mallard (Oh, the terror).

The first signature on my game day ticket (A tradition I maintain when attending a baseball game).

Our first meeting (but not our last).

Mitch grinned … and grinned … and grinned (I’d grin too if I received a call to play in one of the two premier summer leagues for college players).

His eyes sparkled. His speech hurried along with excitement. His hand went out to every passerby who extended a pen, a cap, a bat, a ball, or, like me, a ticket in his direction.

Plain …

… and …

… simple.

He loved being at Warner Park.

Mitch Elliot at the plate.

He loved being a Mallard (shiver).

He loved the game.

He loved the team.

He loved the fans.

He loved it all.

Even if he did look pretty in pink (I’ll explain later).*

His excitement at the ballpark reminded me of a much younger version of me, the high school junior who “felt my heart strangely warmed” by God’s love.

In my first days in the faith …

I loved the Lord.

I loved the church.

I loved the Bible.

I loved it all.

My whole being—whether the smile on my face, the bounce to my step, or the hurried excitement in my speech—spoke of the thrill of Jesus Christ in me.

After seeing Mitch’s excitement that day, I thought about my life. When did my faith become like a job that sucked? When did my love for Jesus start to be a burden rather than a blessing? When did rules-keeping replace relationship?

In January 1972 (yes, I know; that is a long time ago), Christ entered my heart. In that moment, I got both excited and serious about my faith. Somewhere along the way, I dropped the excitement and simply got serious.

Not always.

But often enough.

In the foreword of Jeff GoinsWrecked, Michael Hyatt writes, “The day we met Wosne she was radiant.” He describes this Ethiopian woman’s home as “…just a few walls on a dirt floor with a tin roof.”

When asked what she needed, Wosne said, “Nothing. Nothing at all. I have everything I need. I am the happiest woman in the world.” (read entire story here)

Recently I heard Joseph Lieungh interviewed on At Issue With Ben Merens. He told about a time when he was working long, hard hours. He asked an out-of-work neighbor if he was happy. “I’m happy because I’ve got everything I want. Coffee in the morning, smokes in the afternoon, and beer in the evening.”

Coffee.

Smokes.

Beer.

I know the aim of life isn’t simply to be happy, but if an unemployed man can be happy with coffee, smokes, and beer, then I should be able to find joy in the Lord.

And I do when …

I remember the Lord loves me even when I’m far from loveable. I don’t earn His love. He offers it. I receive it.

I also find joy when …

I dance, skip, act goofy, or sing out loud. Having a dog as a dance partner helps. Penny, tail wagging, feeds off my excitement and I feed off hers.

I find joy when …

I lie on my back and just look up at the sky. I rediscovered this small pleasure by accident while walking the dog.

My aforementioned dancing partner scampered into the underbrush and wouldn’t come when called. I know she’s comfortable with exploring as long as she can see me.

Instead of wasting my commands, I decided to lie on my back and wait out of sight. Eventually she trotted up and sniffed my face, but during the wait, I relaxed and watched the clouds drift by. I found joy in the moment and thanked God.

I’m curious. What about you? Has your faith journey started to feel a lot like a job that sucks? What small pleasure do you need to rediscover? What, of all God’s wondrous gifts, makes your heart dance with joy?

*The first time I met Mitch Elliot was on Marshfield Clinic Susan G. Komen for the Cure Night. He and his Mallard teammates wore pink uniforms.

Community involves investment as noted in The Next Twelve‘s “The Worst Gift”

Jon Acuff writes about “The Worst Tool for Evangelism” at Stuff Christians Like

 

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes

Two men. Two eternal destinies.

One common hope.

My novel can be found at:

WestBow Press

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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15 Responses to When Did My Faith Become A Job That Sucks?

  1. Chris Patton says:

    Great post, Tom! It was worth the wait!!!

  2. Kari Scare says:

    In answer to you question, “Has your faith journey started to feel a lot like a job that sucks?” I can honestly say today that “No, it has not.” I am so thankful for that. My faith journey just gets better and better as I get closer and closer to Christ. I have never been more excited about what lies ahead with Him than ever before. What does bother me is that a part of me feels guilty for saying that because so many people around me do not feel that way. I want to be a catalyst for change in that somehow.

    • tnealtarver says:

      The whole purpose of the post was to encourage us to move into the place you’re currently experiencing–that joy of the Lord sweet spot in life. I’m glad you’re where you are. I’ve been in some recent conversations that made me tired in my soul–the kind of talk where you feel like you just have to work at saying the right thing. I remember my main concern as a young Christian was simply to tell others how about Jesus and how He woke me up.

      • Kari Scare says:

        Sweet spot… great way to put it. Those conversations you mention, yeah, I get those. I do struggle with being there for someone and not being dragged down too. There’s a balance to strike for sure, and I’m not so good at finding it. I tend to go to the extremes, but I feel like I’m in the process of being aligned in that area. As I focus more on Him and what He wants from me, this others stuff seems to be working out without me having to work it out.

  3. tnealtarver says:

    As you know, Kari, from your own experience, sometimes writing a post helps you sort out thoughts and feelings. Watching Mitch that day reminded me that my faith in Jesus Christ wasn’t a burden but a joy and a blessing. Interesting to note how thinking about certain aspects of my faith really has helped encourage a more joyous attitude.

  4. Kari Scare says:

    By the way… I bought your book yesterday! Now, to find time to read it.

  5. Hi Tnealtarver, I found this post great and incredibly interesting. For me, my heart sings wth joy whenever I can forgive human beings. Before Jesus died on the cross he said, “Forgive them lord, they know what they do.” I guess that is how I feel about it.

    Forgiveness is one of the greatest spiritual high any of us can ever have. When we forgive others for anything, being mean at work, not being the best parent, have friends who dived into drugs/alcohol. When we can forgive prostitutes and thieves for the suffering they cause in the world, it’s easier to see the beauty in the day.

    When I can forgive everyone and everything, it’s easier to accept the conditions of my life. And that was a big turning point for me handing my soul over to Jesus, learning to forgive everyone and everything for the flaws, evil, and hardship in the world.

    Thanks for the excellent post by the way. I saw your post on Write to Done, and I couldn’t help but check this out. Great blog post title.

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