by Kim Oyler
As is typical in life, I have something to celebrate this season and something to mourn. We are new to farming and to cattle. This was our first experience with calving, and we were so excited. I was especially looking forward to the birth and new life on the farm. I wanted to experience it all! I was even willing to get my hands dirty in the process if need be. Actually, I was secretly hoping to get my hands dirty! I was all in! At the very least, I was hoping to be able to witness the birth, watch our first-time heifer cow become a mama, and watch our new calf’s wobbly first steps.
So began the questioning of ourselves: What if we had been there? Could we have saved it? What did we do wrong? And then the sad conclusion: we’re bad farmers! In addition to that conclusion came an onslaught of disappointment and regret. We were now back to square one. What we had worked so hard for was gone and now we had to start over. This last year felt like a waste. And now we must wait another year to see the fruits of our labor.
It felt a lot like ministry. The hard work. The investment. The dedication. The anticipation. The hope of seeing all of that hard work pay off. When things don’t work out, we feel the disappointment, the regret. We ponder the "what ifs" and the "if onlys."
We question our ability. We question our efforts. Was it worth it? Did we just waste our time? Will anything good come out of this season?
The strength to keep investing, keep working, keep loving what we do is challenged. But the Call to Serve is still strong. The Call to Love still beats within our chest. The lack of success at the moment is met with the hope for a new day, a new season, and a chance to try again.
My husband and I are non-traditional church planters. We started with a desire to pastor and the blessing of a small building but nothing else. No money. No staff. No mother church.
It has been a slow and steady progression of “success” for ten years, but this past year, a setback. A dead calf if you will. Everything we were building and working towards seemed threatened as we experienced our first church split. A reason to mourn. A reason to question ourselves. Are we bad pastors? Could we have prevented this? What did we do wrong? The feeling that we are starting over is real and present. The reality of continuing to work hard is true. We continue to dedicate ourselves to the church and to the people but also knowing there will be a delay in seeing the fruit of our labor.
Today on the farm,
a live calf was born
in our pasture.
A reason to rejoice!
Much like ministry, there are painful things that exist alongside joyful things. We can mourn our losses. But we must choose to see the new birth that is happening alongside the loss. Currently, we are meeting new faces every week. New life is springing up. People are hungry and growing. There is new freedom bursting forth in our services. So, I will celebrate the new life in the face of mourning our losses. I will also choose to look ahead with hope and expectation for more new life in our church and on our farm!
Kim and her husband, Brad, have been in ministry 30 years, the last 11 years as copastors of Courageous Life Church in Independence, Missouri. They have two adult sons, 3 grandchildren and 2 middle school aged sons that keep them busy. Kim enjoys farm life and being outdoors, as well as writing and teaching. She is stepping into a new season of courage and obedience as she continues to grow in her walk with the Lord.
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