Here’s a thought for Jan. 4

Living Word Lutheran Church

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesseslet us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1

A hard-boiled Army recruiter was breathing down my neck in 1981. He convincingly weaved a tempting web of financial rewards, college tuition support and moderate risk with loads of camaraderie and fun. I successfully fended him off only to succumb to the call to add Army Chaplaincy to my plate 25 years later.

Though I entered at the 11th hour of my eligibility, I was conscious of the fact that I was answering yet another call from God. Just weeks prior I listened as a local businessman tearfully pleaded that we “do something” in response to 9/11. We had a spaghetti supper at our church. The next month I rekindled my contact with the recruiting office. My prayer then, as now, was that if God would open doors I would walk through them. The people in the town where I was serving as a pastor were literally carried by National Guard soldiers as the flood and blizzard of April 1997 burst through their town and subsequently turned it into an icy hell.

Among the many joys of serving as a pastor one is to both give witness to and observe others bringing the greatest love to those exhibiting and pledging greater love.

This world needs greater love. I’ve learned while balancing the multiple calls of husband, father and pastor how each role sharpens the other and every person I encounter (myself included) needs greater love. I have learned that the only way to “do” anything in ministry, marriage, parenting or life is to keep one’s eyes fixed on Jesus who admonished and encouraged his followers with words that are a challenge and a comfort to any who would endeavor to live an authentic Christian life: “love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13