Twenty Years Later...
I'm sitting in my office, looking out on yet another dark and rainy day in the metro Detroit area. It reminds me of so many days back in Scotland, twenty years ago. Yes, it has been twenty years now since I returned from Scotland to live in the US. I left a lot of friends behind, but I had learned that I wasn't a very good missionary. I didn't have the personal or organizational skills to do the work effectively and, certainly, didn't have training. I went because I loved Scotland and the people. I still do.
And now we have been Stateside for twenty years. Hard to believe, really. I came back to the States determined to be a faithful member -- but never a minister -- of the church. I had had to face some hard things about myself and they revealed that I didn't have the skills or personality to be a minister. But God wouldn't let me go. Time after time I took other jobs only to have to call back and say "sorry, but I need to do this ministry a little longer..." It was ten years ago when I finally realized that God wasn't going to let me leave the ministry. I gave in to His will, even though, deep in my heart, I am shocked He would use me as anything other than a bad example.
And He blessed me. Oh, how He blessed me! I have a wonderful wife, two faithful, godly children who are much, much better people than I ever was. I have twenty years of successful ministries behind me. I served in Lancaster, Ohio for nine years and stay in touch with many of them. I served next in Morgantown, WV for eight years and just got back from a vacation with many of them. We are still the closest of friends. I had one year on the waterfront in South Carolina before God made it plain that we were to come to Rochester. What a strange trip it has been!
I am in awe of God. I was an unexceptional boy who made unexceptional grades in unexceptional schools. I grew up to be a broken man held together by God's duct tape and nothing more. And yet.... and yet... look what God did with it all.
If He turned against me tomorrow, He would still be good; He would have still blessed me far beyond my expectations. But I don't expect Him to turn against me. What He could not do to me via law, guilt, pain, or obligation He did through love: He won my heart.
So I will sit by the window and think of the road and say, quietly, "Thank you, Father."