10 Years ago today, I stood at the front of a church and had a group of men surround me, lay hands on me, and ordain me into full-time vocational ministry as a pastor in a Baptist church in Asheville, North Carolina. It was an emotional day for me. My parents and my brother had made the trip down to Asheville and my father preached at the service. This marked a major career shift for me as I left my engineering career behind me and looked ahead to where I had felt God had been leading and calling me.
In the musical “Rent,” the characters tried to measure a year and decided that they would do it in love. How do I measure a decade? 10 years? 10 years, 3 churches, 3 children, 2 lost parents, 2 states, 2 denominations, and 1 seminary degree later, I’m still standing. My ordination was recognized by my current denomination just a few months ago. What I do today looks very different from what I was doing 10 years ago in some ways, and very much the same in other ways. The growth that I have seen in myself over this past decade can only be attributed to what God has done in my life. I hope that others who have walked this past decade with me have seen that same growth.
There have been times that I’ve looked back and said, “What was I thinking?” There are still days that come here and there when I wonder whether I should be doing what I’m doing, I think that’s natural for all of us. When I stop to really consider it though, those thoughts don’t last for a long time, I do my best to gently sweep them aside to look at the things in front of me that confirm my calling, that help me to remember why I do what I do and how success is measured in the eyes of God versus the eyes of the world.
It hasn’t been an easy road by any marks, but easy is not always best. What God has shown me and what I have seen over this past decade has managed to both astound me and horrify me, and probably so many other things in between those two.
I’ve measured many milestones in my life over the past few years. Some of those milestones have been good and celebratory while others have given me cause to stop and reflect, ask questions, and even weep. If milestones help me to reflect or lead to growth, I guess I can’t complain, and if I do, I’m not sure who will listen.
If you had told me 10 years ago where I would be today, I’m not so sure that I would have believed you. My hope is that 10 years from now, I won’t be quite as surprised by my circumstances, not because they haven’t changed or because there hasn’t been growth, but because I’ve gotten used to expecting the unexpected.
I’m grateful that God has used me these past 10 years and I know that I’ve made a difference, regardless of whether that difference has been great or small. I hope and pray that I can continue to be used to make a difference. I might not make a lot of money, I might not achieve fortune and fame, but if God can use a broken vessel like me, than that’s a pretty good case against atheism…..in my opinion.