As soon as we walk through the doors into the warm auditorium, it hits us. The palpable energy in the room. The mix of excitement and nerves echo loudly as people weave through the large crowd to find and reserve seats. Emotions are soaring. Everyone greets familiar faces with smiles and hugs and handshakes as babies perch on hips and kiddos tug on pant legs.
The service begins and we sit shoulder to shoulder in a tight row of chairs near the back. My high heel taps the floor as Josh's knees bounce in rhythm next to mine. Our families sit to the right of us and behind. I can't look at them or I'll tear up, so my eyes go anywhere but there until they settle on the stained glass windows in the front. My hands grip tightly on the service folder as I choke out the hymn verses, the words building strong in my heart.
After four years of seminary training, the much anticipated day is here and now. Seminary Assignment Day. Call Day!
WELS President Schroeder stands behind the podium in the front and in alphabetical order, he reads each name and the place where that graduate will serve. I catch snippets - California, Montana, Washington, Wisconsin - and hear whispers and a few gasps, but my mind is a bit of a blur until we reach the Os. Then a peace that can only be brought by the sweet Lord himself rushes over me and I am so thankful that this moment is finally here, close enough to touch.
My heart beats fast as I take a deep breath and hold it when I hear his name and then Peace, Otsego, Michigan. I exhale and squeeze his arm and we smile as my teary eyes meet his. We share a look between us that whispers Here we go. Let's do this thing.
Talk about a here am I, send me! moment. And in that little moment, God reveals a sliver of His plan and ministry work for Josh. For our family. We are heading to the exact place where God wants us to be, with the special people He chose for us to serve.
Dear Lord, be with us.
It's been six years since that day.
Have there been some challenges? Of course.
But oh the joys! Blessings upon blessings. Grace upon grace.
Over the past 6 years, my husband has had the great privilege of shepherding two different congregations made up of hundreds of faces to know and serve and love, to teach and preach Christ crucified. His life work of ministry extends far beyond the pulpit and into homes and communities and the lives of each person he meets.
This week as a new group of young pastors prepares to be sent into the mission field, my prayers are with them and their dear families, and the churches who will receive them soon. More prayers are for all of the ministers who are serving around the country and across the world.
These imperfect men have been entrusted with the Lord's precious Church and each day they pour their life into sharing Jesus and loving others. They boldly and joyfully proclaim the gospel message of Christ. They take on the weight of struggles shared with them in confidence. They feel humbled to be invited into the most delicate of earthly happenings - new life, marriage unions, heartache, sickness and death. They care for you, pray for you, cry for you, sing hymns over you. They share in the celebrations, but are also neck deep in hard things, walking through the muck alongside of you. They are flawed and forgiven, just like you and me, and loved so fiercely by their Lord and Savior.
They do all of this.....knowing full well that THIS is NOT about THEM.
It's all about Him. To bring Him glory. To spread His unconditional, Life-giving message.
That all may know His saving name.
And they know they aren't alone. This urgent work doesn't rest solely on their shoulders. If it did, they would fail. The Holy Spirit does all of the heavy lifting! He empowers them and strengthens them. He can do amazing things through these humble, ordinary servants.
He goes with them, goes before them, stands alongside of them.
Dear Lord, be with them.
Dear Lord, to your true servants give
The grace to you alone to live.
Set free from sin to serve you, Lord,
They go to share your living Word,
The gospel message to proclaim
That all may know your saving name.
They gladly go at your command
To spread your Word o'er sea and land
Be with them, Lord, and make them strong
To heal sin's ills, to right the wrong,
Your rule is over wind and wave,
And mighty is your arm to save.
When all their labor seems in vain,
Revive their sinking hopes again;
And when success crowns what they do,
Oh, keep them humble, Lord, and true
Until before your judgement seat
They lay their trophies at your feet.
~ Christian Worship, 542