I'm in Corsicana, getting ready for Tory's funeral at 3 PM today. After the visitation last night, I came back to my hotel room alone (Julie's at a retreat in Glen Rose this weekend) and prayed. Thanks to each of you who have sent words of condolence to the family and for promising to pray today for all involved. Coming back to Corsicana got me to thinking about how the Lord has brought me along in my life.
Some of you may not know this, but here's a nugget of truth: I never planned to be a pastor. I was in youth ministry for about ten years when I felt like the Lord sent me to get a PhD and teach college level New Testament or Greek. I prepared myself accordingly, preparing myself with academics and academia. In the fall of 1999, when Memorial Baptist in Corsicana asked me to be their interim pastor while they sought a "real" pastor, I agreed - knowing it wasn't permanent. Julie and I were about to be married the following May (and after she had grown up in a pastor's home, marrying a pastor was the last thing she wanted!). I was a first year PhD student. They were offering to help me pay for the next semester - all the pieces seemed to fit together in a way that led me to believe (as I still do) that the Lord had brought this to bear.
But in February 2000, Julie and I went to lunch at a pizza place. I'll never forget it - she looked at me and said "The Lord has called you to pastor, hasn't He?" Of course, I denied it - she hadn't married me yet! And to be honest, I wasn't sure either. But by the end of March, it was clear. I was to pastor, at least for now. I had no idea that I would spend the next seven years serving the Lord at Memorial.
It's funny what you DON'T learn in seminary. I spent 3 years earning a Master's degree and another 7 earning my PhD, all at seminary, but the best training I got for this job did NOT come from there. It came from working at Sears. I was trained to work with people. They taught me conflict resolution and how to solve problems in the "real" world. I'm grateful for all of my training, be it at Sears or at seminary.
But there are still questions that can't be answered. Like why did the Lord allow a 13 yr old with a reasonably simple infection to die? Why didn't answer the many, many prayers? Why are their questions without answers. I don't know. And as the guy who people turn to in order to find these answers, that's the best answer I have. The timely-ness of an article in today's Tyler paper was refreshing. What do pastor's do and why do we have them? Here's the link: