I have this great memory of singing this song during a worship service at Urbana, a huge missions conference, in 2006. I remember it carrying so much meaning, because in order to have the "mission" bent, we sang it in Chinese. At the time, Mark and I were dating, but Mark had been in China, serving with a missions organization for five months. I remember feeling like the song was this thoroughly symbolic thing, that Mark and I knew we had to be separated, and it was painful, but it was ultimately a good thing, that the gospel might go forth in China. I had an understanding of the Lord's glory, and I knew that at the end of our lives, whatever we had done or sacrificed for the sake of the gospel, would be given to Jesus. We would desire to give everything we had achieved or earned on earth over to Him, and that there would be no question whether or not a life devoted to serving Him had been worth it.
Urbana was a huge time of "consecration," if you will, of my life to the Lord's service. I thought for sure this meant missions (and it did for a brief time and might again), but regardless of what capacity, I was committed to following Jesus' lead wherever.
A few Sundays ago, the children of our church sang this same song during service, as they had learned it during the week at Vacation Bible School. Their voices were so sweet, and the words so simple. It immediately took me back to Urbana, to a room of mission driven young people, reminded me of my steadfast commitment, and caused me to question ... do I still believe all this?
I mean really. Where has this "commitment" taken me? Seven years forward. Factor in some time in China, Ireland, and Switzerland. Add a marriage, a terrifying disease, two babies, and a seminary degree. Through all of these changes and interesting paths, do I still believe that the Lord is perfectly guiding, protecting, leading, shaping, molding, and using me?
Yes. I do.
It just looks a little different than I expected it to.
I have a feeling this is how it usually works.
It was particularly fitting to consider this most fundamental question on this particular Sunday. You see, right after church, Mark and I loaded the kids in the car and drove to Raleigh to attend the Ordination Service of one of our best friend's from seminary.
It was amazing!
I love ordination services, maybe even more than weddings. It is such a beautiful thing to see a young man, headed into the ministry, surrounded by supporting, loving mentors and elders, commissioned to a distinct calling in the ministry of the church ... and all of it done to the glory of God.
It seems like an ordination service is really the only time a guy in ministry gets singled out. It occurs right at the beginning of his "career", and welp, that's about it as far as recognition is concerned until he dies and gets to meet Jesus.
At this service, we were charged to PRAY diligently for Crawford and Rachel and their daughter. We were called to pray that the Holy Spirit would work powerfully in their own hearts, in their family and through their ministry with RUF at Duke University. I hope that Mark and I will be faithful to do this.
As Mark is studying for his own ordination exams, and I am transitioning into the role of a Pastor's Wife (gasp), I am so grateful that in one day I was reminded that all of our life's work, regardless of failures or successes, will be handed over to the Lord at the end.
We will do this gratefully.
We will see Jesus, and we will be dying to give Him the glory and honor He deserves.
As for now, we are not to seek recognition for ourselves, but are to be the ultimate deflectors. Everything we do and say should point others towards Christ. I pray that this would be a common thread throughout all of our friend's ministries, whether church ministry, RUF, Young Life, mission work, and so on. Whether in Durham, Charlotte or Clover, Milwaukee, Conway, or New Orleans ...
(or Raleigh or Chatanooga or next door to me. Sorry friend, couldn't resist.)
And I pray that we will be faithful to pray for one another, knowing that without the Holy Spirit, everything is done is vain.
Lesson Learned: It is sobering to be reminded again that our lives are not our own. But it is also wonderful.
Congratulations again, Stevener's! We are so happy to be a part of what the Lord has done and is doing in your lives!