Over a year ago we responded to the call to step away from a ministry position I’d held for 7+ years to move halfway across the country for seminary training. In a lot of a ways it has felt like starting over. New town. New friends. New church. New stories to carry. New brothers and sisters to trust with carrying our own.
Along the way, I’ve been confronted by my own sinfulness on a number of levels that, while I wouldn’t say they’re “seminary specific,” are certainly more evident in this season of life as a guy coming back around to finishing up schooling. I often wonder what it would’ve been like to finish my undergrad studies and move straight into graduate work. Instead, I labored intensely in the local church throughout my twenties, packed up a U-Haul one day, and unloaded my belongings in a city 15 hours from home. I stepped out of the cab of that truck a full 4-5 years older than most of the people I first met and have constantly felt frantic about all I have to do to “catch up.”
I jokingly tell people to ignore my bookshelves when they visit our home. I tell them those shelves haven’t been “seminary-ized” yet, and are full of the “Dear God, please help me learn how to do church” books. And they are. Practical help after practical help. And I’m reminded of what it was like those years in ministry – struggling to figure out how to pull the whole thing off.
Thankfully, I’m settling in a place where I’m less tempted to think any of this is contingent upon how able I am. And as I press all of my life and ministry into and on top of the precious truth of the gospel, I’m embarrassingly surprised to find that it can bear all the weight I put on it. And then some. And I’m able to stand up a little more confidently. Head a bit clearer. Knees less wobbly.
These days I’m learning there is staying power in the Gospel of Christ.
Paul writes to the Colossians, reminding the believers there of their then-and-now reality. They were “alienated, hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” and now they are presented “holy and blameless and above reproach” (vv. 21-22).
But it’s how Paul concludes this bit that intrigues us most. “…if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…” (v. 23).
It’s easy to get caught up in what is true about us in these verses. We were this, we are that, if we do this. What if, instead of focusing on what might be true about us here, we focused on what is true about the gospel?
Paul says our persistence in the faith, our stability and wherewithal, the ability to stand firm – it’s all made possible because of the gospel. These lofty ambitions have a gospel premise. And, for a life and mind as prone to flight as mine, I need that gospel bedrock. I think you do, too. We all do.
So here’s praying this little bit finds its way into a crevice of a weary soul clicking around on the internet today. Sustenance, life, joy, peace – all held powerfully in the hands of a loving God and held out graciously to you in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Find him there and may the gospel taste much sweeter to you today than it did yesterday. And tomorrow much sweeter than today.