Do you like supernatural stories?
Add this to your collection:
Roughly, say, two or three years ago, my wife handed me a folded note. She explained that one of the women in our fellowship had had a vision or dream (I do not recall which) and felt the urgency to share what came out of the (shall we say) dream with me. The woman was adamant the message was indeed for me.
I unfolded the scrap of paper and this is what I read:
I mentioned this post being of a supernatural nature. Here goes…
I instantly knew what these characters were. I’d taken enough Greek classes to know Greek letters when I saw them. I even knew what word these letters formed.
The trouble was, I knew what it said…but I didn’t know what it meant.
First, some background. Before I pastored in my community for seventeen beautiful, fulfilling, challenging, disappointing, blessed, and life-shaping years, I traveled the country for a decade as an inspirational speaker, specializing in local church revivals, school retreats, youth events and pro sports chaplaincies.
Do the math. That’s 27 years by my count.
However, there’s been a disheartening (at times) gap in my ministry life. I’ve been “available” for ministry for a total of 30 years. Again, some ciphering is due. There’ve been 27 years of active ministry but the past 3 years have been largely inactive.
Or so I figured.
Until that blessed day I was fumbling around in the (of all places) bill pile at my desk and came across the – you guessed it – folded slip of paper with the word “father” in perfect Greek letters written in ink by a carefully accurate hand.
Oh yes, the miracle. The woman who “saw” the characters and knew by spiritual instinct they were meant for me, had never studied Greek, didn’t know what Greek letters looked like, much less basic Greek vocabulary; and yet, there they were, in perfect script, the right order, and, as it turns out, a divine directive. To me.
Allow me to fill in a gap or two for you for further clarification. I mentioned three years of “inactive” ministry. Bite my tongue.
Nearly three years ago I was approached by a young man (an elderly teenager) at his aunt’s funeral I happened to be officiating. He asked if I might begin meeting with him to answer a lot of questions he had about faith, the Bible and spirituality. He and I met for several months, weekly, sometimes several times a week. Another young man was added several months later. Another one or two came – and went – but a few others soon joined. And stuck.
With all humility and unexplainable grace, I have come to recognize they look to me as a father of sorts, and I’ve begun to see them as sons in the faith. Oh sure, they have others who regularly speak into their lives and offer sound counsel, but what was “Greek to me” has become clear and revelatory.
In this anything-but-interim small handful of years, these twenty-somethings have become my ministry, my calling and passion. Nothing is coming before them. Doors are beginning to open again for pulpit ministry, but that is secondary to my just being available to these hungry young lions.
I’m a father, I’m supposed to be a father, and this is not anything close to inactive ministry. I’ve embraced it, embrace them, and rest in this calling. If all I have is my living room filled with 20-something young men for the rest of my life, answering their questions, digging into the scriptures together, living in community together, pursuing and experiencing eternal life together…I will joyfully, enthusiastically and relentlessly give myself to this service.
That’s what fathers do.