Yesterday marked the 28th anniversary of my ordination into Christian ministry. I have no idea how 28 years flew by so quickly. I still vividly recall, as a 25-year-old, kneeling and having hands laid on me and how heavy those hands felt as the ordination prayer was prayed by my favorite theology professor. I wish I could recall the exact words he prayed. I just remember his words were beautiful. And, when I stood, tears running down my face, I was changed. Something happened in the kneeling and praying. I was somehow equipped, empowered and infused with God’s presence in a way I hadn’t been before. It was strange. But, then again, this whole journey has been strange.
A month after ordination, I found myself officiating the funeral of a 14-year-old girl in my youth group who had been killed in a fall off of a horse. I remember standing to speak thinking this was not at all what I signed up for.
Not too long after that, I interviewed for my first full-time ministry position, 7 months pregnant with our first child. A crusty west Texas businessman asked me a question I don’t believe was legal to ask, then or now. “How in the world do you think you are going to be able to be a mother and a pastor at the same time?” I don’t know what I said but I thought, “I have no earthly idea, I’ve never been either one.”
I got that job. I became a mom. An older, shut-in church member there took my face between her weathered hands and prophetically said, “Trust God with your ministry and your baby. God will provide.” And guess what? God did. God has. God will. Fabulously, stunningly, miraculously and with impeccable timing over and over again for 28 (!) years.
Ministry has been harder than I ever dreamed. It has taken its toll on my heart. It has driven me to my knees, to tears, to despair more times than I care to admit. One somebody asked me, “Is your job too much for you?” Without hesitation, I said, “Yes, but that is when God shows up and the community of faith sustains. No one could do this job without that. It really is impossible.”
It has been hard, impossible and, at the same time, wonderfully beautiful. The births, the weddings, the new life, the grace, the transformation, I’ve seen it all. Like life, ministry is a Holy mix. I call it the bittersweet, beautiful ache of ministry.
28 years. I am humbled, honored and so amazed. God really does provide. And God, really is so good.