Sometimes a statement will really grab me, like the one I recently sent out on Twitter. The saying seemed to provide context for the last 10 years of my life – what I call “My Decade in the Desert”.
The statement goes like this… “Every Saint has a past, and every Sinner has a future”. I must confess… and take responsibility for the fact that…. I have a past. I have a past that is marked by frailty, failure, and fallout. You see, as a pastor of 15 years, I succumbed to isolation, insulation, and insecurity – leading to a moral indiscretion that ultimately cost me my marriage, ministry, and good standing with my children and community. Yup, sure enough… I have a past.
God saw my need for brokenness and complete consecration, and graciously invited me into the desert – to walk with him alone until I was reformed into a fit vessel for His service. Hosea 2:14, 15 reads, “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [trouble] a door of hope. There she will respond [sing] as in the days of her youth…” So, in 2003, the decade in the dessert began – a decade of intimacy and wrestling with God while being in purposeful exile – a time where God would show me I have a future. In the sovereign wisdom and grace of God, this extended time was needed to reshape a poorly functioning clay pot into a vessel of divine pleasure and purpose. Jeremiah 18:4 says, “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”
Now, I’m rejoicing that I have a future. Having been released from exile and the desert – I am in a season of new beginnings. With a new dependency on God, I am back in church work and relationship. I am grateful for the work He has done in me, and blessed to experience grace upon grace with a new season in front of me. Truly, God has provided beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of a spirit of despair [Isaiah 61:3]. “Every Saint has a past, and every Sinner has a future”.