It’s been quite a week and it has been the cap to a long process. It’s been tough – emotionally, mentally and physically draining. But, the draining process has value to it. I know that might sound strange, but for a school with our reputation and history, I had to try everything to keep us going. Last night when I laid my head down on the pillow, I was sure of a couple of things – God’s love and my family’s love for me and that I did the best and all that I could. A football coach Pete Carroll has said, “Leave it all out on the field. Do everything you can in your power to help your team. And then accept the results on the scoreboard.” I don’t like the results, but I’ve done what I can do.
Bishop Mathes gave me some advice. First, God calls us to minister and sometimes that ministry is quite different from what we thought it would be. Second, God calls his strongest soldiers into the toughest battles. I knew God called me to Saint John’s but I wasn’t feeling all that tough. I am both a lover and a fighter – a priest, a solider, and a cheerleader. But the priest was losing hope; the solider was growing weary and losing cheer.
Moses resisted his call from God. Despite God speaking through the burning bush, he didn’t feel tough enough to do the job. Abraham at times didn’t feel up to the task. Jesus even asked for the cup to be removed from him. What I have gone through is infinitesimally small compared to what they had to do. Nevertheless, it gives me strength to see that everyone wonders if they are tough enough, even Biblical heroes of incredible proportions. They all had their doubts but were sure that God would not tempt them beyond what they were able.
Internal strength comes from God. In addition, I have the love and support of my family. I lift weights three days a week. I am lifting more now than I could have imagined years ago. That strength comes from repetition and dedication. Strength from God comes from trust that can lead into valleys that are dark, scary and where a positive outcome is far from certain. But repetition and dedication help there, too; the more times I trust God, the easier it becomes during the next time I take a walk-through-the-valley. Another thing about strength is that it comes when we need it the most. I have asked parishioners to walk into a hospital room and have the strength to tell their dying parent that it is time for them to let go. That is strength from God.
On the day that I had to start the plans to announce the school is closing in June, I didn’t feel particularly tough. In fact, I felt washed out, burned out, and scared. I told God that I didn’t know if I was up to this task. A little bell rang in my head that directed me to read the Bible verse of the day. Here it is as I read it that day. “I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged! I am the Lord your God and I will be there to help wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
That passage gave me the trust and faith I needed, and enough knowledge to be certain that strength comes from God.
As the autumn season begins, many church—and personal—schedules begin to fill up. Days grow shorter and the list of to-do’s only increase as we inch towards forthcoming holidays. Costumes to be made, goodies to bake, presents to be purchased and so on. Considering the busy-ness of the next few months as we approach Advent, here […]
Shortly after the resurrection, Jesus was walking down a long road when he ran into two strangers. These strangers did not recognize Jesus. How could they? Jesus had died, been buried, and, just hours earlier, risen from the dead. The stunning story of Christ’s death had spread, and these two travelers did not yet believe […]
For five days in late May of this year, I had the privilege of gathering with other seminarians at the annual Preaching in Excellence conference hosted by the Episcopal Preaching Foundation (EPF). For 35 years, the EPF has been educating Episcopal seminarians and clergy on the benefits of great preaching. Four of my fellow Sewanee […]