Empty Ink Jars, Lost Prophets, Blood Baths, Wounded Soldiers & Real Life Struggles

Several people have asked me about blogging, or, more specifically, why I don’t blog daily any more, and if I ever will again.

In one instance I answered, “My pen ran out of ink”, but I realized afterwards that it was not completely accurate. I have not run out of things to write about, stories to tell, or thoughts to share. I could write a thousand posts in a relatively short time if I was free to tell the things I’ve experienced in the past few weeks, months, and even days.

It is a huge compliment, and an honour I don’t take lightly, to know that when I wrote daily some of my readers looked for my post with great anticipation, to find some encouragement. Some of you have shared how you returned repeatedly throughout the day, just to see if I might have posted something. To those of you who have shared these encouragements, ‘Thank you’. Your kindness blessed me, and I hope one day to return to writing, if not daily, at least frequently.

Some of what I wish I could share now, is simply not mine to tell. Amazing journeys I witness, as I sit with clients and journey with them through their stories, their pain, and walk with them in their pursuit of God. And while the stories are often heavy, and painful, the hope I see coming to life in the eyes of those I work with, keeps that heaviness as secondary, and prevents it from penetrating my spirit. Nothing has ever brought me deeper joy, and more fulfilment in life than what I do now.

Other things I would write about stand in stark contrast to the passion and purpose that spring to life in my heart through ministry. It is ‘the dark side’ of what I do, and the deep spiritual warfare that goes with ministry. It’s the attacks I face because of loneliness in ministry…  it’s the ‘hell’ people go through in dealing with the aftermath of sexual abuse and violence… it’s the loss of spiritual life, because we idolize belief systems, rather than worshipping God and embracing salvation through Jesus Christ… it’s the tragedy that there is often no place for people to turn for support, guidance and understanding, because of the silence of religion regarding ‘taboo’ and uncomfortable topics… it’s the reality that ‘pull yourself up by your boot straps and choose happiness’–advice often found in Christendom–isn’t the solution for souls destroyed by the hell of life.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus entered into the hell of people’s experience and showed them love in that hell. He spoke with authority into the experience of the lost, the dying, the sick, and the hopeless because He walked with them.

Sharing with a friend this past week, when she asked how it’s going, I told her that sometimes it’s a blood bath. Figuratively, and spiritually speaking, of course.

In the physical world, when a heart isn’t working as it should, sometimes it requires open heart surgery. The patient is placed on a table, and everything is monitored and controlled. It’s relatively neat and tidy.

Spiritually it’s not like that. It’s like the chest is ripped open, almost carelessly, by the pain. Blood begins to spray, and I move in close, the spatter inevitably landing on me. My role is to reach into that chest and find that heart, to massage it and keep it beating in the intervention process, to offer blood transfusions, and give that heart to the Great Physician do His part, and heal it.

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That stuff can’t be done without getting bloody. It’s messy. It’s traumatic. It’s painful. The price we pay for ministry can only be ‘known’ through experience. It is not something that anyone can tell you about, really, or prepare you for. You get into it, and realize one day that the cost is more than you knew it would be, and you accept that cost.

On a Facebook status, recently, I posted, “This spring I need to plant a juniper tree. And maybe buy a whale for a pet. Seems to me that people in ministry need these things.”

When I look at great prophets of the past, and see how they coped…. or didn’t, I wonder what has become of us in twenty-first century Christianity. I look around and see great men and women of God, living neat and tidy lives, with no apparent struggles, ‘downs’ or sins to repent of. And I ask myself, “how real is this?” Or have we simply learned to live a life of convincing ‘togetherness’, even in pretence, just to ‘sell’ our Christianity? Or could it be that too many of us are afraid of the blood spatter, so we work at a surface level?

It’s not that I think Christians, and leaders in particular, need to be coming apart at the seams to be ‘real’, but I find them more believable if they admit to struggle, and occasional failure.

For example, when I heard that Joyce Meyer threw a dish against the wall in frustration, a smiled. And, while I couldn’t find any official documentation to prove it actually happened, I secretly hope it’s true.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we throw things, and have fits to express our frustration, but there is something to be said for being human and Christian. I fear sometimes we have become so caught up in presenting perfection that we miss out on the greater blessing, of ministering to those who struggle, and hide it because they are too ashamed to admit it for fear of judgement and rejection. And because they want to look as together as they perceive us to be.

What if we were more transparent, and admitted that, every now and then, when ministry is a ‘blood bath’, we grow discouraged? What if we admitted we get tired? What if we admitted that it’s frustrating to give tirelessly and feel as if God has forgotten us? That we struggle to trust when the need is greater than the energy, and the ‘blessing’ of ministry doesn’t pay the bills?

What if we, like Elijah, parked under a tree and started bargaining with God for our very lives? What would happen to us then? Would the church cast us aside? Would Christians judge us, and write us off? Or would they tell us to step out of ministry? Or take a break? That we’re burning out? Or would they recognize that God uses broken human beings, and always has, to accomplish great things on earth?

Today I will confess that lately some of my conversations with God have been a bit like Elijah’s under that juniper tree. I weary, not so much of the battle, but of how hard it is to convince the church, in general, that something must be done in the area of healing ministry and discipleship.

Like Elijah, I feel alone and wonder why there are no ‘prophets’ to take a stand with me, against the evil of abuse and violence, and, more importantly, to offer a safe place for people to heal and be discipled.

At the end of the day I can only hope that somewhere, maybe hiding in a cave, there are others being prepared to meet the great need. In the meantime, I will return to blog, now and then, when words don’t fail me, and share with you glimpses into my heart and this ministry. During ‘silent’ times, I ask you to bear with me. Because some days, if I would dig deep into my own heart and spill out the raw truth for you to read, it would be too much. Or you would feel sorry for me… and I despise pity… Therefore I am silent.

So, until next time, may the grace and peace of Jesus cover you, and His love fill your hearts and minds.

Stand strong. Be real. Don’t fear the blood, sweat and tears that go with God’s call.  Battle hard. And don’t be ashamed when you fall…. or find yourself crouching under a tree, wishing God would end your pain and misery before the enemy gets you.

Remember that the greatest men and women in history really bombed at times and still God did powerful things through them. He will do the same in you. And in those moments when you haven’t the strength to get up, He will carry you.

This is real life… This is war…

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© Trudy Metzger

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One thought on “Empty Ink Jars, Lost Prophets, Blood Baths, Wounded Soldiers & Real Life Struggles

  1. Margaret February 10, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    Your mention of discipleship reminded me of something I have been thinking about this past week. What if every person that came to Christ had a mature believer in the church to personally disciple them? How would the church look different? It seems the task is given to pastors, youth pastors and other leaders in the church, but they simply can’t do it all. Or we point to various books, curriculum, seminars, videos, etc. It seems to me that the church is full of people who have walked years with the Lord, and have no idea how to disciple a new believer, or maybe they do, but just aren’t doing it. This is something I want to learn how to do.

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