There was a time that I thought commissioning was a just another gimme in the long list of promises coming my way. Like a child, spoiled by the privileges of indulgence, I was sure that this was but a right for which I was to be handed. That was of course until I came before the NGUMC Board of Ordained Ministry.
It was on that Monday during mid-March 2008 when I was humbled (Jesus says “the exalted will be humbled”). I MEAN HUMBLED! Then came mid-March 2009 when, yet again, I was deferred. Seeing no way through at the moment, I told my wife, my family and my friends that “if there had ever been a needle’s eye, this was it.”
It was in my helplessness, my nothingness, my emptiness that Christ made a way by offering me a place to serve despite my inability to move forward. During the third year leading up to Annual Conference for North Georgia this past week, everything seemed to change in my heart. God moved in spite of me. Despite my failures, God blessed. Regardless of my stumbles with the Board, Christ showed up and ministered. When I was not sure what would happened or where I (and my wife) may end up, God’s blessings poured out from seemingly thin air. Time after time after time, God was revealed. God was revealed…..GOD was REVEALED!
Tonight I am pleased to announce that I am a commissioned provisional elder in the North Georgia Conference of the UMC. Did I have anything to do with it? Not as much as I thought I would. In fact very little of it may be credited to me (hard work is key but there are too many intangibles for me to have done any of it). I could not be more sure that I was commissioned as a result of MERELY God’s Grace. I look forward to my days ahead in the UMC. I feel now more than ever before called to serve Christ right where He has me.
The commissioning service on Wednesday night was beautiful. Thank you to the North Georgia Conference (laity and clergy alike) for blessing my socks off. God, you know my heart. Open me up further to your surgery. I have so much more to learn. It was very beautiful to spend a moment (just a two hour period) experiencing the past, the present and the future within one fiery pitch of a time. I will never forget being on stage with the cabinet and facing some 3,500 people in the three tiered, standing room only Classic Center Theater (a bit of heaven’s hosts).
I’d also like to say that when those for bishops laid hands on my shoulders, I felt the Spirit of God. I was not the sobbing mess I usually am in His presence. Rather, I just nodded my head a lot. Toward the end, I did hear one of them say, “yes Lord,” which was affirming to me that I was indeed feeling the Holy Ghost (of course you’re always there God – but you get the point). I pray everyone gets the chance to experience such a communal embrace in their lifetimes (and may it happen with regularity).
I must also say my wife Sarah is a rock star! I could not have done any of this without her (seeing as how I am “a glass case of emotion” without her). Oh, and its good to be back home with the dog and the backyard…focusing on the task at hand!