It has been a little while since I've tried to blog. It's the end of the semester for me, which is always a very busy time. It was extra busy this time as for the first time I was supervising a student's thesis. That is a whole lot of extra work! (Though nothing compared to writing it.) So I've mostly been ignoring the blog. But right now I'm taking a little break from grading to blog a little bit.
The end of the semester is usually a happy time. Students are graduating and moving on to new areas of ministry and service.They are, of course, very happy that there lives will no longer be ruled by the writing of papers and the taking of tests. And they should be. But the reality is that the trials of a seminary education are nothing compared to the trials of Christian ministry. In ministry and in life there are no syllabi or study guides to prepare you for the tests ahead. The tests simply appear without warning, whether you're ready or not. And in the midst of those tests, ministers still have to consistently write good sermons and minister to their people. It's a high calling and it's not easy.
I have been reminded of this reality through the events of the past 48 hours. There has been much sadness and heartache in the lives of some of my fellow ministers. My heart is heavy for them.
My roommate from college, who is still one of my best friends, pastors a church in another state. The young man who was the youth minister at his church suddenly passed away on Monday. My heart breaks for his young wife and my heart is so sad for my friend, his family, and his church.
An older minister who I admire and respect, who has been unfailingly generous with his time and advice, serves as a pastor in a major city in Texas. He has also served our association of churches as a leader and previously spent many years directing missions work around the world. His 20 year old grandson suffered a heart attack last week and departed this life yesterday. There are few things in life that are more grievous than outliving your children or grandchildren. I am deeply sad for this dear minister and his family.
A widely respected and beloved minister went home to the Lord yesterday. I don't think I ever met him, but I know several of his children. If their father was anything like them, he was a wonderful man. One of his daughters is married to a faithful pastor. Another of his daughters was the academic dean at the college Amanda attended. She later moved on to another college, where she met the love of her life. They were married this past weekend, an event her deeply ill father was able to attend. His son served for many years as a missionary overseas, before returning to the U.S. and becoming a director of missions work. He also occasionally works as an adjunct professor at the seminary where I teach. Although their father's death was expected, I know each of his children is grieving for him while ministering to their mother. I am sad for this family.
Finally, one of my fellow professors at the seminary lost a family member this week. Although this death was also expected, that never means that it is easy. I am sad for him and his family.
All of these events remind me of the fleeting nature of life. Most of us expect to live 70-80-90 years. But there is no guarantee of that. God only gives us so many days on this earth, and only He knows how many we have. The time God gives us on earth seems to be long, but it's really not. It's gone before you know it and we always have to say goodbye to our friends and family members before we're ready. That is why as a Christian I put my hope in the resurrection. Christ's resurrection was God's promise that there is more to reality than this earthly life. That for those who trust in Christ there is a beautiful future in heaven and there is coming a day when the grief of the present will give way to eternal rejoicing.