Stranger in a Foreign Land

I am now close to two weeks into ministry back in Tonagnoxie, the town in which I grew up.  To date it has been an incredible start and I feel very blessed to be here.  There is a wonderful energy and incredible potential within the church.  Many many people have welcomed me home and in so many ways I feel that I have returned home.

Last night as I met with Staff Parish I jokingly commented that I am feeling like a stranger in a foreign land when it comes to my time in the office.  You see, over the last several years I have moved almost exclusively to apple products; I carry an iPhone and I use a MacBook (on which I do use Microsoft Office for Mac).  That said, my new office has a nice laptop that is relatively new.  It runs Windows 7, an OS with which I am completely unfamiliar.  It does not have Office on it, rather it has wordpad and Open Office, two word processing programs with which I have next to no familiarity.

I am a relatively competent computer/tech guy, but yesterday it took me several hours (and a break for lunch) to put together some simple letterhead and to write a letter.  Tough stuff for a guy who isn’t all that patient, especially with himself!

I will work through the technical bugs and get to a place of efficiency with which I am more satisfied, I have no doubt.  But, this whole experience has me thinking… how many people have experiences in our churches like I have had in the office these last couple of weeks?

How often do people come to our churches comfortable with and skilled at a particular operating system for living only to find that not only do we do things differently, but we don’t provide the clear instructions and tools to help them learn to live within and be comfortable with the new systems?  As we learn to live within the operating system of the Kingdom of God there are new ways of speaking and acting and living that are and will feel foreign to many.  I know that I will seek to be more intentional about providing helpful guidance and tools and support to those moving into new environments after my experiences of the last week.

When have you felt like a stranger in a foreign land?

What things have you found to be helpful when you have felt this way?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Stranger in a Foreign Land

  1. Teresa

    The “stranger in a foreign land” experience is one of God’s foremost gifts to each of us. Without we wouldn’t be growing personally nor spiritually. Sometimes this growth process can be rather uncomfortable and is hard to endure the length of the unknown. Talking to someone that is sincere and trustworthy helps such as our pastor, a therapist ;), a friend or a respected family member can help a great deal. Absolutely Prayer and Trust in the Lord that he is there for us no matter what happens and what the outcome will be. As we see how God’s Plan unfolds and we know that this is where He indeed wants us to be, we then know God’s peace within us. (Been there and done that many a times. Hang in There!)

  2. papahdawg

    Anybody who has not felt this way at some point has never taken the risk associated with growth. The strange precipitates learning. Without it, we feel no need to grow and deal with changes that could confront us. We grow rigid and fearful.

  3. Anonymous

    Steve & Teresa, thanks for the comments.

    I was struck by Westhaven’s sign as I drove back from some visiting in Lawrence this afternoon. It says, “A ship is safe in the harbor – but that’s not what ships are for.”

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