Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
~Collect 193, LSB
With nearly two quarters behind us, I thought I would take some time to pause and reflect on what this experience has taught me thus far. As you may have guessed from my earlier posts, being at Concordia has been a cross-cultural experience. Unlike many of my fellow students I was not raised in the Lutheran church. There is a lot about this little subculture that is foreign to me. To be honest, the first month was brutal. Not only did I feel like an outsider, but I ran head first into many of the uglier stereotypes that I had about the LCMS. I heard more derogatory comments about evangelicals, women in leadership, non-liturgical styles of worship, and minorities in my first couple of weeks than I had heard in the last several years. By mid-quarter I was flirting with depression and wondering what I was doing here. To say that I was angry with God for calling us here would have been an understatement.
So what changed? Why am I still here? A couple of things. First, great faculty. There have been several professors who have opened their doors to me and let me talk, vent, and (yes) cry. These conversations have helped me see that while every denomination has its dark side, there is also lots of hope, especially when the leaders themselves are modeling the kind of pastoral care that they hope to pass on to their students.
Second, I realized that I am not the only one. As I’ve talked with other students I realized that many of the things that I have been struggling with are the same issues that they are facing. Having friends to talk, pray, and laugh with has changed how I approach the campus and, quite honestly, I now look forward to going to class.
Third, a deeper sense of calling. As hard as being here has been, I am more convinced than ever that this calling to leadership in ministry is exactly what God has created me for. I’m a theology nerd with the heartbeat of an evangelist and a passion to preach and teach the Word of God. I desperately desire to see people who are far from God come to know Jesus and to see those who are following Jesus continue to grow as disciples and missionaries. That has not changed since I have been here. Rather the desire to be a part of that mission has grown and sharpened.
Finally, my family. What would I do without my wife and kids? The kids remind me of how fun and goofy life is and Jenny is always present as my friend, confidante, and fellow missionary. Or marriage has grown stronger as we’ve been on this journey together and I’m so grateful for her love and friendship.
All this gives me hope and reminds me that, even in difficult seasons of life, God is still at work.
So thank you all for your prayers, your support, and your love. We couldn’t do this without you and we look forward to sharing more stories about our adventures in the weeks and months ahead. Thanks again and Good bless.