Pastor’s Pen May 11, 2016

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:12 New Living Translation

When my son graduates from Seminary this week, it will be nothing short of a miracle. It’s not that I lack confidence in either his faith or his abilities. It’s simply that there were moments when raising the boy that I wanted to kill him. Not literally, of course, figure of speech and all that. But really, is it possible to raise children and not have moments of delirious exasperation?

If I weren’t a Christian, and the Pastor, I’d go to church anyway, just to hear some kindly grandmother tell me everything is going to be all right. Norma was like that when my son was young. A seasoned mother, she watched him stretch his wings, and me suffer for it. She smiled in a knowing way and reassured me he’d turn out eventually, though not for evidence of it at the time. It’s not that I didn’t want my sons to grow up. It’s just that sometimes their wings knocked over the lamps and hung awkwardly in the front closet while waiting for flight.

One of the former Deacons of that church from twenty years ago recently told me about the year Christmas almost didn’t happen. It came time for Mary and Joseph to walk down the aisle embracing the baby doll Jesus, when Joseph was nowhere to be found. As you might have guessed, it was my irascible son who went missing, so the vigilant Deacon went looking for him. The Deacon searched everywhere before discovering him out behind the church, adorned in the requisite Nativity bathrobe and headgear, smoking a cigarette.

The miracle of this scenario is as much about God’s boundless grace and extravagant mercy despite our faulty parenting as anything else. We act as if we can get it right when in truth, we always miss the mark at least a little. We fumble our way through our strong and fragile relationships and our unpracticed hand at childrearing. Most days there’s nothing to be done but to fess up that we sometimes feel like imposters who look way more competent than we feel. Fortunately the things that matter most aren’t up to us. God sets us back rightly on our path when we drift from it. God shuttles the most reluctant Joseph down the aisle toward Bethlehem. And God bears fruit from those who trust that by the grace of God, our “good enough” efforts will be sufficient to produce great things for God’s glory.

Prayer: Thank you God that our fumbling efforts today are sufficient when we trust in you. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee