A Journey Worth Finishing
Somewhere along the line in my life, the idea of journey became my operative theme. That’s certainly not unique to me. I am increasingly aware, however, of how important this theme has become to the choices I make, and how I feel about those choices and their implications. My journey of being a pastor, first working primarily through the medium of music and drama and then a pastor in the more conventional sense, has encompassed has been my full-time work for more than thirty years. But now, as the result of choosing to follow my wife Kathy on her professional journey, I find myself working very part-time as a pastor and also part-time as a college professor of music.
When I chose to leave the church I had served as pastor for ten years in Kansas City, I absolutely expected to be working full-time again as a pastor in a church within a few months. That would have given me a feeling of professional continuity and us considerably more financial security than we are experiencing. Instead, it took many months to find even part-time ministry work. Yet, despite the anxiety with regard to money, I believe my life is unfolding as it should. My journey of growth and fulfillment continues unabated. The fearful times reveal a great deal about who I have become and what I am valuing. This is an insight that probably would not be so available to me apart from those experiences of fear, weakness, and disorientation. I know it brings more integrity to what I say from the pulpit and what I bring to pastoral relationships.
In the last week of his life, as the Christian gospels tell it, Jesus faced many fears and many temptations to lose the direction of his journey. In each case, he was able to remember who he was and whose he was. As a result, he finished his journey faithfully and gave each of us reason to hope that we, too, can be faithful, each on our own journey. God’s promise is to be faithfully present with us always, to the very end of our journey, as we finish where we began—in the very heart of God.
Each person, no matter how old (or young), has an important work to do…. This good
work not only accomplishes something needed in the world, but completes something in
us. When it is finished, a new work emerges that will help us to make green a desert place, as well as to scale another mountain in ourselves. The work we do in the world, when it is true vocation, always corresponds in some mysterious way to the work that goes on within us. (Elizabeth O’Connor, Cry Pain, Cry Hope)