Sunday, February 7, 2010

What’s taking so long?

Sometimes we get a chance to start over. Sometimes we need a chance to start over. Sometimes we have to start over even when we don’t want to.

She has a dream of doing something someone her age had never done. She prepared for the trip many months. Circumnavigating the globe alone in a sail boat is referred to as “the Everest of sailing” and is a daunting and dangerous feat for anyone but especially for a sixteen year old! Abby Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, California has dreamed of this for years and in January 2010 set out to fulfill her dream.

When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher – Mr. Lams – would refer to me and another classmate as his “theologians” because we loved religion class and were pretty good at it (thanks in large part to the way Mr. Lams taught it). I think it was at that time that the dream of being a full-time theologian and pastor was sparked in me. But it took a long, long time for that dream to ignite.

Abby set sail full of hope and excitement! Many people saw her off from Marina Del Rey, California. The sun was shining, she had good winds, and everything was beginning great! After a couple of hours, she sailed out of the safety and calm of the harbor and on her own in the open sea, heading south and starting her great adventure of sailing around the world!

When I was in 7th grade, my family and I changed churches due to several things – controversy in our synod (the mid to late 70’s was a tumultuous time for our church body) and some difficulties in our local church. Even though I was Mr. Lams “theologian” in the sixth grade, I ended up going to a public school in the seventh grade. After six years of Lutheran school, I entered the open sea of the world.

Four days into her adventure, Abby realized that she had a problem. Instruments weren’t working correctly. Her batteries weren’t recharging like they should have. She had limited power and limited contact with her team (via radio). She could still sail, but attempting to circumnavigate solo under these conditions was dangerous at best. She made the decision to pull into port and make repairs. She could still complete her dream, but she would have to start from a different position.

Two things were working against me as a “theologian.” I was in a public school and I had discovered girls. Priorities went a bit out of whack and I no longer had the daily exposure to God’s Word like I did in Lutheran day school. My parents did what they could for me, keeping me involved in church and worship; I was even treasurer of my church’s youth group during high school. But over the years it became clear that if I was going to get back to the path of becoming a pastor, I was going to need to get back to a daily routine of prayer and devotion. And that happened after my freshmen year of college, when I transferred to a Lutheran school and into a pastoral ministry undergraduate program.

To be continued….

The Bible says “that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). It was my experience that God’s plan for my life was not an “overnight sensation” but rather a long, drawn-out, deliberate plan. There have been false-starts, do-overs, and seasons of waiting. This is not extraordinary with God and His people. Moses had to wait 40 years before he became leader of Israel and led them out of Egypt. It took David 13 years before he ascended to the throne of Israel. St. Paul spent three years in Arabia and another four years in Tarsus after his conversion before he set out on his missionary journeys.

Coming to faith in Jesus Christ can – and does, for many, – happen in an instant. But God seems to take His time in preparing us for work in His kingdom. The message of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is something that seems to take time to sink in to our hearts and transform our lives in such a way that God can use it to bring others to faith.

Patience, endurance, and trust are all part of our calling as children of God. And like that, this story will take another week to unfold.

© 2010 True Men Ministries

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