Sunday, February 12, 2012

God's Will

Confession time.  I have been teary-eyed (okay, sometimes it's actually outright bawling) since this morning when our pastor announced that he has received a call to the LCMS International Center to serve as Director of Worship and as the Synod's International Center Chaplain. So what's the big deal?  It's only a call! There's really no way I can explain except to say that a "call" in the Christian church, be it Lutheran (like my pastor and me) or otherwise, is -- or at least should be -- considered a very VERY big deal.  A call in the Christian faith is a call by God to serve Him in service to others. These called servants are entrusted to teach the truth of God's Law and Gospel, and these calls have been going on since Biblical times. So we pray fervently that after Pastor W has prayerfully considered this call, his response will conform to the will of God.

More confessing: I don't want him to accept the call. It's because I want God's my will to be done. No, I want my God's will to be done. The fact of the matter is that I do want God's will to be done, but I selfishly want it to conform to my will. Why? Because I am a human, and, therefore, I am a sinner. One significant commonality among sinners is this: We are all afraid of God's will.  Okay, well, maybe not all the time, but, you know, when it really counts for something. We act as if God doesn't know how to carry out His own plan -- as if He doesn't know what's best for every little step we take, no matter how insignificant those steps may seem in the here and now. We often forget how precious we are to Him; that He knew us from the beginning.

I recall the day a little more than 30 years ago when my twin nieces were born. They were more than two months early. While my sister-in-law was still in labor, the decision was made to quickly transport her via ambulance from the little hospital that served their community to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis where the babies would have at better chance of survival. Barnes was, and still is, one of the leading hospitals in the nation. Back then, the chances for their survival using state-of-the art medicine and equipment was 50/50. Parents, think about that for a moment. Consider someone telling you that ONLY if you take your child from Point A to Point B, his life or death is still going to hinge on a coin-toss. After the twins were born, the doctor told my brother and sister-in-law that if they could survive the first 72 hours of life, their chances would get a little better. I already had a child of my own.  He was 18 months old at the time, and I knew how empty my life would feel if he were taken from me. So I also knew how desperately my brother and sister-in-law prayed for their little babies. My brother confessed later that when he prayed The Lord's Prayer, as he reached the words "Thy will be done," he hesitated. He didn't know if God's will would be life or death for his children.  God's will was for those two little blessings to survive and be a blessing to many many other people.  And they have ... and they are.

Pastor W's acceptance or non-acceptance of this call isn't a physical life or death situation like the one with my nieces. But consider what God, in his infinite wisdom, already knows. Perhaps one of His lamb's eternal life hinges on hearing the Gospel message, if only the right person for the job is there to deliver it. God will guide Pastor W to the place where he needs to be, and Pastor will continue preaching Law and Gospel out of love just as he has for years -- whether it is to the congregation at St. Paul in little bitty Hamel, or whether it is to others from around the globe at the LCMS International Center. I find it more than coincidental that today I stumbled upon the following which was included in Pastor's first blog post back in 2004:

God shows Abraham the stars to illustrate
his innumerable descendents.
By German painter Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872),
engraving, from "Bibel in Bildern" (1851-60)
Homily for Trinity 1 (2004)

“And Abraham believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6) When the Lord made the promise to him, Abram did not stumble in unbelief. He knew that God was not only powerful enough to carry through – even though Abram had not the first clue HOW He would do it – but that God was gracious, merciful to carry through and bring forth this Seed who would bring blessing to all nations.

And by the way, anyone who knows Pastor W, knows that while he was delivering that Homily, he was bouncing on his toes and waving his arms. Has he ever NOT been excited about delivering the Word and Sacrament to us?? I seriously can't imagine that. What a loving and faithful shepherd he is!  Please keep him in your prayers.


  1. "One significant commonality among sinners is this: We are all afraid of God's will. Okay, well, maybe not all the time, but, you know, when it really counts for something." LOVE it. Kinda like saying, "Oh, and I almost forgot... can you do what I want this time, God?"

  2. You get me, Em. I hope that doesn't scare you too much. :) Love you!