Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Can See It From Here

Yesterday was one of those up and down days that seem to characterize the life of a pastor.

Personally, it was great to celebrate Bunny's birthday and look forward to today's celebration of our 35th anniversary. But we also were wading through the process of (along with the rest of Bunny's family) taking a look at what we can do to improve Bunny's Mom's care and eventually see her return home. That pressed us all day long.

Then there was the sadness as we prayed for Harriet Standifer and her family as they laid to rest her sister and her husband who passed away last week. Added to that was the news that one of our elderly members, Evelyn Brown, who was visiting her daughter in Colorado, fell down a flight of stairs and suffered serious injury.

Later in the day I got a notice that the materials I had submitted for my final review for graduation from Rockbridge Seminary were lacking a few pages of work, and that they were needed immediately. The reviewer was one of my favorite professors at Rockbridge, Dr. Dean Finley, and he and I worked out through a series of emails what was needed and I stayed up last night until I was able to get that done.

For me, one of the greatest revelations I received earlier as a pastor was that I was involved in an avocation that guaranteed my frustration unless I came to grips with the fact that my work was never really ever "finished." People don't stay "fixed." Churches don't continue to be healthy, or continue to grow unless the pastor and the people he loves and cares for continue to do the little things to stay in step with the Holy Spirit.

Until you understand that, you will be on the way to going nuts.

So early on I realized I needed something in my life that had a starting point and an ending - a finish line. When we first moved here, it was easy - we had old cars that continually needed work. Fixing them, at least fixing one thing until another happened - filled my need. But we eventually moved upstream from $150 cars and I entered seminary again. While my work at New Orleans still lacks a few credits due to their on campus requirements, my tenure at Rockbridge is in sight of the finish line. I can see it from where I sit today, and if everything goes right, I'll be finished in February and graduate in June.

It is... right... there.

So what's next?

I'm praying about that. I'd definitely like to knock out the 17 hours I need at NOBTS, but time and tides make it difficult. I could roll the credits from there into another Rockbridge program. It really has been a great experience. Initially I plan to write more and listen to the Holy Spirit for my ultimate direction.

But it is so wonderful to be near the finish line.

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