As I see it, a lot of the Christian life is spent coming to understand who I truly am and who God truly is. I’ve been a pastor’s kid and a seminarian, but most important I remain a son of God. As I near the completion of the candidacy process and, Lord willing, the beginning of my ministry this year, I wonder how the future will look. I wonder what people will say at the end. And I sometimes pause to think about the end of my father’s first term in ministry; Dad, who has now been in ordained ministry in the CRC for 21 years, wept.
I was 10 years old. It was Sunday morning, and Dad stood in front of “my” church for what would be one of the last times. As he announced that he had taken a call to another Christian Reformed church, he broke down and asked Mom to come and stand with him so that he could finish what he had prepared to say.
I don’t remember the words, but along with his tears, I do remember looking around and seeing the faces of people whom I loved—friends, Cadet counselors, the many adopted grandparents—and I remember seeing tears in many of their eyes too. Leaving wasn’t easy or fun, but following God’s call led to blessings both for our family and for that church.
As I begin in a new community, I wonder how to cultivate a ministry like that—one that, in the end, is bittersweet for all the right reasons.
It strikes me that the life of a ministry candidate is no different from the whole of the Christian life. You pray. You ask for the Holy Spirit’s leading. And you wait for God’s peace and his leading, often longer than you would like. Standing on my father’s shoulders—and on the shoulders of many other great Christians who have come before—I’m consistently reminded that the Christian life doesn’t happen by accident. It’s never without intent, without planning, without work. But most of all, it’s impossible without God; without God calling and without God leading.
Why else would I leave my comfort zone? Why else would I go from “here” to“there” in the first place? The better I know God, the better I know myself. And the better I understand why I continue to do the things to which he calls me.
So as I stand on the edge of candidacy, I don’t just want to begin with the end in mind; but rather to begin with God in mind. It’s funny how easy that is to forget. Life with God—truly knowing God—leads to the kind of intentional life of blessing that I see my parents and so many other Christian Reformed folks pursuing.
As my generation rises up to serve and lead the next, it’s my prayer that all of us continue our lives and our ministries not only mindful of the tears but also mindful of the God who wipes away tears and who is leading us all into new life.