Congratulations to the winners of our young adult writing contest sponsored by Multiplication Network Ministries (p. 32)! This year’s theme is “What Gives You Hope?” We could always use a reminder of our hope in God.
I need that reminder because, honestly, I have been feeling discouraged lately. Most of you already know that I have a tough job. I didn’t seek out this job. It wasn’t a “dream job” that I aspired to when growing up. Becoming an editor of a Christian magazine never crossed my mind as a youth. I am here because I felt called, even compelled, by God.
Back in October 2015, I was in my 15th year as a Christian Reformed campus minister at York University in Toronto. It was difficult work; York’s systems and culture were not friendly to Christian ministry. It took patience, graciousness, and years to build trust, relationships, and connections to build up the ministry. Then the Holy Spirit nudged me.
Well, physically, it was my wife. As she read the bulletin in my sister-in-law’s church in Ottawa, where we were visiting for Canadian Thanksgiving, my wife drew attention to a job announcement for the Banner editor. Referring to the qualifications, she half-jokingly said to me, “Even you can apply, honey.”
Then the Spirit nudged again. We traveled home to Toronto the very next day—and there was an email from my mentor, who knew me well. He copied me on the email he sent to the Banner editor search committee, saying that they would do well to consider me for the job. I was surprised.
The Spirit nudged a third time. The very next evening, I received an email from a friend whom I respect and admire. He too encouraged me to apply for the editor role. Three nudges in three days! At that point, I felt God was calling me. So I applied, and here I am.
But I was scared. Although the job did fit my gifts, I knew it would be tough. I had no delusions about the storms brewing in the CRC. I felt called to a posture of peacemaking. But such a posture doesn’t always square with a journalist’s responsibilities.
I feel like someone stuck on a boat between people at either end who are angry at each other. I am trying to ask them to “play nice” despite our disagreements, but more importantly I’m pointing out that the boat is leaking. The leaking hole, I believe, is spiritual pride. Unfortunately, it seems that both sides only have grown louder and more intent on tearing each other apart, blaming each other for the leak. One side says the other is bowing to culture; the other side criticizes the first for being judgmental. Yet the hole still is not plugged.
I am discouraged because it seems like a losing cause. But, as our contest writers remind me, I serve a risen Savior, a living God of hope. And I saw a sign of hope at Synod 2022.
On the last day of synod, a delegate who supported the human sexuality report publicly apologized for hurtful words he said. On his way back to his seat, he was hugged by two different delegates. One of those delegates opposed the report, but she embraced him as an act of forgiveness. The sight of that embrace gives me hope. We need more of such moments of humility and grace from all sides.
I believe that was the Holy Spirit working in their hearts. Let us strive to discern and follow the Spirit’s leading.