Pastor John Elmore, Jr.
Surprises Along Life's Journey
I am a person that likes surprises. Normally, I Iook at them as a little spice in my life, a new adventure. While I might feel exhilarated with a surprise, some of you would cringe. Order and predictability rule your day, and that is fine. Several weeks ago, I received a phone call. I looked at the number on my cell phone and thought, "I have to answer this one, but I am so busy and behind today." I picked up my cell phone, and I said, "Hello, Rev. Love. How are you today?" Our District Superintendent was on the phone. He does not call me often, so I knew it was important, Pleasantries were exchanged, and then the words came. "John, I need to ask you a question. I have an opportunity for you." I have admitted I like surprises, but I couldn't imagine what this could be. I didn't have a lot of time. I wasn't sure I was ready for this surprise. Order and predictability would have been good at that particular time. Rev. Love told me about a chance to take a class that would help me move forward toward seeking full elders' orders in the United Methodist Church. I started to like this surprise a little better. Rev. Love explained what I needed to do. Yes, I was going to have to move quickly to get going, but it was a good opportunity.
I talked to Steve and completed the application process. I am now enrolled in a class called Clinical Pastoral Education, a requirement to becoming a full elder in the South Carolina UMC. I had to be gone the second week of October, and it would require some time each week as my class meets via video conference and there would be required assignments. All of this is good for me and this option is good for our church. The conference is paying most of the cost of the class, and the time away from the church is decreased greatly from other options for this class. As I was driving to my class in South Georgia, I asked myself what I had gotten myself into this time and how is this going to be more than checking a box in this process? I saw God start to answer me very quickly once I arrived. The other people taking the class were going to be enjoyable to be around, and it was clear God had something for me to learn through this as well. The other thing that came up was God has put three of us together that serve in different contexts than many other churches. Shawn and Patti come from multi-site churches and Patti launched their newest campus the same time we launched "The Connection." You want to talk about an amazing surprise and answer from God? Shawn and Patti are just that. I know I will learn from the class and the other people, but He just gave me two great people that can relate to where I am and how I am doing ministry. Yes, I am surprised, I am excited about it. I can see this is exactly like God. He knew my path. He knew my journey. He knew I could use some other people to talk with and think through part of my ministry.
I don't know how you look at surprises along your journey in life. I just admitted that sometimes I can see them with excitement and at other times with dread, depending on the circumstances faced at that given time. What I do know is that we should be willing to see that God might have something in store for us when life takes a detour. Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." You and I might be surprised; God never will be. I am giving thanks for my two new friends and the surprises along my journey. Where can you see some blessings and be thankful as well?