About 10 years ago, I attended a theological symposium at my alma mater Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.
I remember feeling that as I walked among the buildings that held so much promise for me when I was student in the early 1990’s, that there was so much more ahead of me. As I walked among the buildings with fallen leaves crunching under my feet, I reminisced about the past. At first I felt a sense of loss. Ten years after graduation, was I really where I thought I would be?
This was not the first time I had walked among those buildings with a sense of loss. Two years after arriving on the campus, fresh out of college, I didn’t have much hope for the future. Classes weren’t going well and I was distracted from my studies. I was thinking of giving up becoming a pastor. I felt that I missed something along the way. My life wasn’t turning out the way I had thought it would. But my life soon changed dramatically!
Ten years later, as I walked among the buildings again, I realized my life turned out better than I had hoped it would. It is vastly different from what I thought it would be, but it is so much better that I spend very little time now thinking about how my life could have been had this happened or that not happened.
This morning, as I walked over to the church office from the parsonage, the leaves crunching beneath my feet as they did so long ago on my walk across the campus of Concordia Seminary, I found myself dreaming again. It has been 27 years since I first arrived at seminary. During the seven years I lived and studied among those buildings, I had dreams live and die. At the end of my time there, God gave me a new dream – one I would share with my new wife.
It has been a dream of what God could actually do with my (our) life. But it had taken almost 10 years for that dream to come into focus.
And as soon as that dream came into focus God revealed to me a new dream.
What do I want to do with my life? What is it that I want to do in God’s kingdom? I’ve been a pastor for 19 years. I’ve preached nearly 1000 sermons, led over 1500 Bible classes. I’ve taught Luther’s Small Catechism to 19 classes of children. God has used me to touch so many lives. I know I’ve messed up a lot along the way, but I have faith in God that He is the Almighty who can work through my messes.
I remember talking with a friend of mine about 10 years ago and he said that he felt that there was a momentous change coming in his life. He felt that God was going to be doing something in his life very soon. He didn’t know what it was. He didn’t know if it would involve a move away from where he was at the time or not (it did and not very long after that conversation). He only knew that God was going to do something dramatic in his life very soon.
That’s sort of like how I feel now. God has been preparing me for something. He’s brought me to this place in His kingdom. He has used me as His instrument of change. I feel that God is going to do it again – possibly soon but I’m not sure. I can see things working in my life, preparing me for something. Something that God will use to bring transformation to this world. Maybe not the whole world, but maybe the parts of the world that I come into contact with.
In the Bible, these kinds of moments often included God calling a person by name.
And when any of these people were called by God, they all initially responded in the same way.
“Here I am.”
Never, “Who are you?” “Here I am,” takes faith. And that same faith is given to each of us through God’s means of Grace – the Holy Scripture, Holy Baptism – and strengthened through Holy Scripture and Holy Communion.
I believe God has called each one of us to be in this place “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
He’s calling you and I by name.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us answer, “Here I am.”