In 2012, I was an uncertain teenager who was in the middle of his freshman year of Bible College. I had been running away from God’s call on me to pursue pastoral ministry because of fear and a feeling of incompetence. Alec Millen invited me to come to Together for the Gospel conference, and the Lord used that conference to break me and launch me on a trajectory towards pastoral ministry. Last week, I attended the Together for the Gospel conference once again – only this time I was not the youngest! In fact, our group this year included four other young men (some of our LBC interns) who are on a journey of their own towards ministry. We were so blessed to be there!
If I’m honest, I still have the same fears and feelings of incompetence I had back in 2012. In fact, I think most pastors share in the feeling of being inadequate for the task of shepherding to which God has called them. But, the beauty of this conference was that we were reminded that we are not the ones who have to be competent for the task. God, working through His Word, is the only competent and adequate one to keep the mission of the church alive.
In CJ Mahaney’s session, he spoke about the mystery of trials and suffering from the book of Job. Job asked God again and again the reason why he was suffering. Interestingly enough, God never told him why – His only answer to Job’s question was a revelation of Himself. Job was given the reminder of God’s greatness as the remedy to his suffering.
As CJ finished up his sermon, I found myself weeping uncontrollably as we sang the closing hymn. I was broken by the thought of people very dear to me within our church family who are going through innumerable trials. Through this sermon, I realized that even if we were to get answers as to why God allowed those things into their lives, our hearts would not be soothed. That’s just not the purpose of trials. The only thing that will soothd our hearts is coming to a deeper understanding of God’s grace and care. He relentlessly proves Himself faithful again and again, especially in our periods of darkness.
Shepherding, as CJ said, is filled with “cold, dark nights.” But it is also filled with weighty joys as we see God fulfilling His mission through our feeble efforts according to His own timing. He is the one who does the work! His Word is sufficient to tell us where to go and how to get there, and He gives us little peeks of the future fulfillment of His promises as we journey.
And so, I feel blessed. I was honored to sit under the teaching of these faithful and gifted men for three days. I was grateful to have the opportunity to spend time with these amazing pastors whom God is working in and through. And I’m hopeful for our church! God has a plan for Grace Church – more people who will place their faith in Christ, more transformation of Lancaster, more joy as we experience God’s grace together for the Gospel.