Alaskan Deacon Argues with God

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As part of our True North Campaign, we are publishing articles highlighting the impact of Anglican Compass. Here, we welcome Deacon Craig Daugherty, who shares a story from his ministry in Fairbanks, Alaska. Enjoy!


In an isolated place such as Fairbanks, Alaska, I am grateful for the connections, challenges, and renewal that the writings of Anglican Compass bring me. Now, I’m glad to share with Anglican Compass a story from my ministry of the beauty of God’s holiness in the midst of struggle.

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My Argument With God

One Sunday, starting at about 3:00 a.m., God and I got into an argument (Spoiler Alert: God won). It started when I received a text in the middle of the night from a parishioner who said she would not be at church on Sunday. I knew our Sunday service would already be lightly attended. Several families were either PCSing (military term for Permanent Change of Station), out of town, or otherwise engaged on Sunday.

As I read the text, I said aloud, “God, I might as well just not do the service today.” What I was really thinking was, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I was frustrated as I had spent six or seven hours (on my day off) preparing the sermon, the bulletin, and the music for the service. And now I was down to one or two people that might be at the service.

I am an insomniac. I often have problems sleeping. I knew that sleep would likely elude me the rest of that night/morning. My brain was going too fast, listening to the sound of the enemy. I sat up in bed and began a litany of all the reasons I should quit, all the reasons why it just wasn’t fair that this was where I found myself in the service of God.

My Excuses

Here is a partial list of all the excuses I made in my argument with God:

  • I’m not even a Priest. I’m just a deacon. Everything I do depends upon a priest coming up once a month just so I can perform a reserve sacrament service in place of that priest.
  • I don’t have an acolyte, a musician, or even a lay leader or reader. I have to do it all.
  • I am giving up my day off to prepare a sermon, music, bulletin, etc., for almost nobody.
  • And the kicker: I don’t even get paid for this. In fact, between the books I have to buy for tutorial sessions, trips to Convocation, clergy wear that I must purchase, and an upcoming huge expense for a residential tutorial I must PAY to have the privilege to work as a deacon. I even buy the wine that we use for the Eucharist. Woe is me!
  • So why should I continue to do this when I have such few numbers of participants?

God didn’t answer me, at least not immediately.

I got out of bed and gathered my clergy shirt, cassock, and other items I would need to officiate the Eucharist from reserved sacrament—grumbling the entire time.

God Responds

Then, the small, quiet voice boomed in my consciousness:

God: Which one of your flock is not important enough for your best in the celebration of my presence today?

Me: <crickets>

God: Tell me who in your flock does not deserve your best in bringing forth my Word today?

Me: But you just don’t understand. I’m tired…

God: Give me the name of one person in St. George Parish that does not deserve to engage in the prayers of the people for MY CHURCH and my people.

Me: Okay, I’m getting in the shower. I’ll go. <under my breath> But I’m not going to be happy about it.

My phone went off as I gathered my clothes to go to the shower. Another text. Another member is not going to make it today. That was the last straw.

Me: Okay, God. Now Susan [name changed to protect the innocent] is the only one that’s going to be there. Why should I go?

God: So that’s the person. Susan is the one that is not worthy of your best in the Eucharistic feast. Susan is the one that does not deserve to hear my Word and engage in the prayers of the people.

I stopped. I put my clothes down on the counter in the bathroom and returned to my bed.

I wept.

Called by God

I sat on my bed and listened as God’s call, righteousness, and holiness swept over me. He reminded me that I was HIS child, called to HIS service, empowered by HIS Spirit.

He reminded me of the sermon I had prepared for that day. The words of Ecclesiastes [vanity, all is vanity], the words of Psalm 49 [for when he dies, he will carry nothing away], the Apostle Paul writing in Colossians 3 [put to death therefore what is earthly in you], and the words of Christ in the Gospel of Luke [so is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.]

God soothed me as I showered. God spoke to me words of blessing, love, grace, and assurance. I dressed and put on my kippah, a sign of obedience and submission to God as a part of the Order of St. Cuthbert. And as I did, the words, the call, of the vows I had taken just over a month ago permeated my being:

  • Simplicity: to not be drawn into the riches and anxieties of this world, but instead to be about seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness.
  • Chastity: seeking the proper stewardship of heart, mind, and body.
  • Obedience: to keep God’s will and commandments and call on my life.
  • Compassion: (this one God allowed me to really focus on) to recognize all life [EVEN THE ONE—Susan] as important, cherished, and honored before God.

I drove to church both broken and healed. I was both exhausted and energized. But, above all else, I was called. And that was really all that mattered. Right after the Eucharist, I genuflected before the table as the Communion music continued to play. The four congregants (yes, three visitors that morning) were silent, reflecting on the real presence of God that they had just experienced. As I genuflected, I did not rise immediately. God was not done. I knelt before HIS presence as he said, “Craig, you are my beloved son. It is okay to be frustrated and tired. But know that I will ALWAYS feed you if you only call upon my name. Now, rise and go forth into the world as my child, filled with grace, joy, and righteousness. My holiness in the midst of your struggle will always be enough to fulfill my call and my blessing, be it for one, a thousand, or you alone.”

I was renewed—a different attitude. I had just experienced the beauty of his holiness in the midst of my struggle. We serve a mighty God!

Thanks for the Church and Anglican Compass

I praise God for His Church, the Bride of Christ, by which I am encouraged and fed each Sunday, each day, through the Daily Office of Morning Prayer, Mid-day Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline, that his Holy Spirit meets me through his Scripture, the Prayers of the People, and the creedal statement found in the Apostles’ Creed.

Praise God that the beauty of his holiness in the midst of my struggle can be found through community, both in person and through groups of like-minded spiritual pilgrims, such as the Order of St. Cuthbert and the Anglican Compass.


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Published on

December 20, 2022

Author

Craig Daugherty

Craig Daugherty is a Deacon at St. George Parish at Fort Wainwright (Fairbanks), Alaska. He serves as the Director Religious Education for the U.S. Army and is also the Director of Formation for the Order of Saint Cuthbert.

View more from Craig Daugherty

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