I’ve been away for a while and a lot has happened. I’ve decided to come back and begin to tell the story of what God has done and what God is doing to call me to a new place, to a new role, in a new way. It’s frightening and life-giving at the same time, and for some reason it has forced me to this place, where I need to get certain things out of my head. I don’t have a blogging schedule and I don’t know if I’ll post for long, but I will share what I have for as long as I have it to share. To start, I’m going to tell the stories of seeds that have been planted over the course of years, while God prepared the soil and brought the growth. These are the secrets I’ve kept in my heart as I have been absolutely blessed to serve as the youth pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship in Fortville, IN. They are the secrets that as my call changed, were necessary for me to even hear the voice of God in the midst of it. Without further ado, may I share a story with you about the day, “I should have known.”
It wasn’t fair really. I was just trying to get a baked potato for my lunch. I wasn’t looking for a prophetic word, or even career advice.
I was looking for bacon-bits, and cheese.
But Tallen Hall is hallowed ground, and words spoken there carry a weight to them, especially when they were spoken by Gil Stafford. Perhaps they were just innocent questions about what brought me to Anderson University’s School of Theology. Maybe he just wanted to know my story, to hear about my calling. That’s what he asked about. So I told him. Called to youth ministry. With conviction in my voice that was meant to say, “because teens are people, and not stepping stones.” I still believe that. Test me. They were never a step. Ever.
So maybe he just wanted to get to know me better, but then again, this is Gil Stafford, and as he asked his question it landed with a crash and ring that echoed in my heart and in my mind.
“Have you ever thought of being the pastor of a church, because the Church of God is in need of young pastors who are willing to serve.”
I’m sure I gave an answer. I had an answer, I was a youth pastor, and that’s what I was called to do. I’d never close the door to any possibility for God’s call, but it didn’t seem likely. It wasn’t where I was called. It was the truthful answer too. In some ways that had to be my answer. If I were to serve the kids in my care the way that I have done, to be faithful to what I believe God wanted for them, then I couldn’t imagine anything else. But the question, and its resounding echoes stayed with me.
I do wonder if anyone heard it then. Not his question, nor my answer.
No, I wonder if they heard God laughing. He had to be laughing. Not a mocking laughter, but a laughter of one who recognizes that the seed that was just planted will germinate and dig deep for years before it bursts forth in an instant. He had to be laughing. I would have been. Maybe somebody heard.
So now here we are. Looking forward down a path that I’d never been able to envision. Imagining now of what it will be like to serve in this new way, in some new, and still unknown, community. Thinking about what it means to be called “pastor” and to play that role well. Because, after all, he was right. The Church of God is in need of young pastors who are willing to serve.
That was the day I should have known.
The secret though is, way down in the crevices and cracks of my soul, down where that seed first fell…I did.