Bunny and I spent a few minutes today looking at pictures of the most fascinating person in the world - Aiden Brann Wilson - our grandson. Perhaps I'm getting a bit easy to move emotionally as I age, but looking at those pictures, I remembered those days when I held Aiden's father in my arms, and many of those moments that mark a life forever. I remember how my heart would swell with joy as he slept on my shoulder and I felt his heart beat and heard those little coos as he breathed.
Meeting the woman of my dreams, our first kiss, beginning life together - it's all still there. Bunny being pregnant with Adam, enjoying him immeasurably, and then being blessed with Sean to boot. Then came so many years of joy as we raised two incredible boys, surrounded by our families in the community we grew up in. Our church families at Bethesda and Mt Zion Baptist both provided us with strong support and deep understanding of what it means to be a church family. The conversations we had and the times we shared still warm my heart decades after the fact.
And here I am tonight finishing a sermon as I have done so many times... I'm wondering.
Have I done what God wanted me to with my life?
When I accepted God's call - when I said "yes" to God, it also meant I was saying "no" to a lot of what made our life so rich for so long. I left a great job with a future, a great church with awesome friends, left family and familiar surroundings for the great unknown - at least unknown to us. Just as I've always told people who are getting married that no one can really explain what it's like, serving God as a pastor comes with precious little in the way of a road map. There have been others who entered the ministry after me who have left it already, good men who I respect for their faith and character but who ended their service in leadership to return to a normal life. It always causes me to wonder what happened. Was the pressure too great? Were the strains of "herding cats" while keeping a church's focus on Christ instead of preferences too telling? Did the toll on their family prove so much they just decided "enough - I've done enough."
There have certainly been some detours and road closed signs during the time I have served at New Hope. Many times discouragement and doubt have caused me to want to hang it up or leave. Yet the Lord has always given me the grace to make it another day. These last three years, as I've worked as a teacher along with trying my best to care for the people God gave me to love have been a roller coaster ride of feeling great about our impact one day and not so great the next. Still, grace has always been enough.
So tonight as I'm preparing to preach in Acts Chapter 20 tomorrow, where Paul is following God's call into an uncertain future, I get a chance to hear a clear message directly from his heart to mine. From one man who left it all behind to follow Jesus to another.
And you know what?
When it's all said and done - His grace is enough.
I can look back and see God's guiding hand again and again. I can feel His presence even now as I write this, letting me know He is with me and that no matter how feeble and unworthy I might feel at times, His Spirit will supply what I need to fulfill His purpose for me until the day He calls me home. I'll try to be faithful everyday, and rely on Him to live out this verse.
David did God’s will during his lifetime. Acts 13:36 (NCV)