So… He loves us…

I don’t really get it yet, at least not to the depths that I will in ages to come.

In fact, I think I will spend the rest of my lifetime and then all eternity exploring and then trying to put into words the depths of the bottomless sea and endless ocean of His amazing love for me.

Over two decades ago Mary and I were in such a difficult place in our journey….living in exile. It had been about four years since we had been excommunicated from a group of people and leadership that meant the word to us. And restoration was all but impossible.

I was exhausted with trying to figure it out and just plain tired in my walk with God. I remember going to bed one night and telling God “I am sick of it. I have followed You and You have failed me. I am done with this and with You. Don’t ever speak to me again.” I meant it.

I went to sleep.

In the morning I awakened with His sweet voice ringing in my ears “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

And I thanked Him for not taking me seriously.

He asked me this question “Lloyd, if I never restore you with Paul (the pastor that I was estranged from, the man who had been like a father to me, who had taught me how to love my wife, raise my kids, manage my checkbook and run a business…a man I loved) will I be enough?”

“Will I be enough?” I said “No.”

But He ignored me and instead He has been tenaciously wooing me, proving Himself to me, loving me and pursuing a friendship with me these past 20 some years. He has not given up on us.

Imagine that!

It was within a few months of the above encounter that He became “my Shepherd.” And life was swell again. I was no longer in want. Abundance and favor at every turn, the night turned to bright day. What joy and deliverance crowned those days. We spooned in the generosity of God.

With renewed energy, we began to again pursue “ministry” as if being hounded by a devil.

The call of God, the call of God, the call of God!

With full deliverance in our pockets, we set out to change the world. We were servants of the Most High and serving God was our pleasure and highest duty. We moved back to upstate NY and then to Mississippi to bring revival to the deep south. Hallelujah!  Glory!

After a year of honeymoon pastoring with some terrific folk, our momentum hit an abutment. The call, the call, the call of God! The ministry? It can be an unforgiving taskmaster. Religion is suffocating.

The pressure in the back of my neck was so serious I wondered again where God might be. I couldn’t eat and lost about 25 pounds. And I gave this thing called “the call of God” back to Him and resigned the pastorate.

“OK God, I am done with this thing called ministry. It is over. If the call of God in my life is real, it is now Your problem to figure out. I am done with trying to make it happen!” I left the business of pastoring.

Instead, I dove into business with a vengeance, tasted success and then had this amazing and once again the call of God bit me.  My “Calling” was business….”business as ministry.” There were plenty of books being written with these themes…and I rwad them all!

Maybe I could still be in the ministry and a world changer one sale at a time. Hallelujah Glory! Yeah, God!

But in 2004, on the edge of business failure and then 2007-9 face to face with failure; my castle was burning. The call, the call the call of God!

I had believed with everything in me and had run full fury into the “call of God.” I had invested every penny plus all of my strength into the dream of missional enterprise. And we were left with absolutely nothing to show for it except the shirts on our backs…complete devastation all around.

My daughter Aimee was so close during this season and was carrying the burden of it so much that God finally told her to “back off.” He said “Aimee your dad will be OK. He and I are having sweet fellowship, it’s called the fellowship of my suffering.”

Talk about honor…

God referring to my temporary and light affliction as though somehow it was comparable to what He experienced; honoring it on the same sacred ground as the cross. In hindsight that just blows me away!

Aimee also had a dream about that time. She saw me sitting at a table fellowshipping with Jesus; just splitting our guts in laughter, enjoying each others company, sharing jokes back and forth.

And Oh My Goodness! What a Friend He is becoming!

It has only taken 12 years outside of the church (the loneliest 12 years of our lives) for us to get just a little of how crazy He is about us; how crazy He is about having a friendship with us. 12 years without the trappings and busyness that involvement in religion takes; 12 years without the friendships and social life that church involvement offers; 12 long years to get that “He is enough”.

In these last four years I have been discovering His nearness and love for me. So much so that at times it is almost uncontainable.

He is so fond of me! He just looks at me and smiles!

Is this making you uncomfortable?

The revelation – He has been pursuing a friendship with me for my whole life. And I have been telling Him my whole life that He was not enough.

I have been in search of a father my whole life and He has been right beside me saying “I’m right here Lloyd.”

I thought my whole life, like the older brother, that what He wanted was my “service” in ministry and then “business as ministry, ” when all along, all He has wanted was for me to be His friend.

He has so valued this friendship with me. It is so high on His agenda that he has allowed me to exhaust myself in legitimate yet superficial realities that I have been substituting for Him, my whole life.

What a discovery this is becoming!

I am looking back now on these past years and am amazed by His love for me. He likes me and wants nothing from me other than friendship.

I am on the verge of discovering that He is “more than enough”.

And you are also!

Get this…He is no longer calling you a servant!

He’s calling you friend!

Don’t worry! You will still get to serve. But as I am discovering, it is way better when He is more than enough!

Lloyd Clark is an entrepreneur, a former pastor, and writer. He is passionate about being loved by our Heavenly Father and revealing that same love to everyone he meets. He and his wife Mary have 5 children and 7 grandchildren and live in North Carolina.

1 Comment

  1. Sandy Alva

    Exactly What I needed to hear..Thank you for your transparency!

    Reply

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