She looked at me and gave me the look she had given me many times before over the years.
The look of an older sister telling her baby brother that bouillon cubes were a new flavor of Starburst, that the correct way to shoot a rubberband was towards my face, or when she was going to be moving to Switzerland and when she came back, said it was okay to cuss.
It was a look of excitement, uncertainty, and love all mixed together to form a smile and glow around her face.
Nine months after we took this picture, I think it was on her face when she told me over the phone that she went on a date with a man named Cole Bratcher and said it was her future husband. It was on her face ten months from that phone call, when we walked together down the aisle at her wedding.
It’s an image tattooed in my mind as I begin seminary tomorrow.
One of the biggest mistakes I think we have done in the Christian community is describing faith as a leap into the unknown. Seriously, when does that ever happen in real life? The only time I’ve seen it was Indiana Jones, when he stumbled onto Lion’s Mouth in the Last Crusade.
Saturday night, I had a dream of being a pastor, delivering a sermon, counseling people after the message, and playing with my children. I remember feeling more exhausted than I had ever felt but a great sense of fulfillment. The more I read and interact with pastors, this is a common tension that is felt and experience among them. According to this article, pastors are underpaid, their marriages are affected negatively, and they fight depression constantly. I think this quote by Ernest Shackleton sums it up accurately; this was originally his ad that he used when recruiting his team for Antarctica:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
The more I hear and experience this, instead of tucking in my tail and running, I run forward.
I’m a fearful and prideful man, filled with flaws, failures, lack of self-esteem and no confidence in myself. And yet, I am loved more than I have ever been loved before because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am an adopted, loved and accepted son of God. Jesus’ death paid the penalty that my sins deserved–the same power that raised him from the dead resides in me and gives me the ability to find strength through my weakness. My life is not my own, but is found in Him and he promises never to let go, even when I stumble through valleys of depression and frolic through hills of bliss. He will be with me, so I can be courageous because my strength and identity is in Him alone.
I jump lonely, but know that I do not jump alone.