Our first reading this week is very familiar to us as it is the second reading every year at the Easter Vigil. The story of God calling Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, and go on a three-day journey to Moriah to “offer him there as a burnt offering” always stirs up a lot of questions in me. For instance: At any time in those three days, did Abraham have second thoughts? Did he ever think that this just isn’t right, and want to turn around and go home? Did he ever dare to question if this is really what God wanted of him? You know, all the same emotions and questions that we wrestle with when faced with a tough decision. Now, please understand that I am not equating trying to decide if God is calling you to a new job, or new city, with having to sacrifice your own son, but you get my drift.
I think most of us, at one time or another, have had to make a “fork in the road” decision in life which was going to impact more than just ourselves. In those times, I have found myself looking to God for guidance, but I have to tell you, the guidance wasn’t always crystal clear in the moment. It would often take time, require patience on my part and most importantly, trust.
I would like to share with you how my journey toward church ministry began. I had begun volunteering at St. Augustine’s as a lector and was quite taken with the ministry. Then I was approached and offered the opportunity to serve on the liturgy committee as coordinator of the altar servers. I jumped at the opportunity, as, often times when you are starting out in church ministry, you say “yes” to everything, whether you have the gifts or the formation to do the job. Looking back, I had the gifts (raw and undeveloped as they were), but not the formation. What comes along next to this eager new volunteer, was the chance to study for three years at the Atlantic School of Theology in their theology and ministry program. Here is where the “fork in the road” comes and how this decision was going to affect more lives than just mine. At the time I worked for the Superstore, was married and had a 6-year-old son. The demands of the program were one weekend (Friday night and all day Saturday) per month for three years. One problem, working in retail I only had one weekend a month off. As much as I wanted to do this, I couldn’t imagine asking my wife and son to make this huge sacrifice of family time. While I did pray for help in deciding what to do, I had a difficult time separating my voice in my head, and what I wanted to do, from where God was calling me. Then, I came home from work one Saturday, and there on the kitchen table was a study bible my wife had purchased for me. She looked at me and said, “you are going to need that for your course”. God had answered my prayer for guidance using a voice I knew I could trust.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase”. We can never see the whole staircase; most of the time, we can’t even see the next step, yet we soldier on with so many little acts of faith. For instance, every night we go to sleep without any assurance that we will be alive the next morning, yet, we set the alarm. Despite everything we see around us, we walk with faith that God is still in control and that everything will be OK. Some people will say that this doesn’t make sense and to them I say, you’re right. If it made sense it would be logic; this is FAITH.