Thankfully, it was not a scam - at least I don't think so. The email arrived shortly after noon, but it was nearly 1:30 before I noticed it. The sender told me he was a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. He was writing an article about private schools in Michigan - more than 200 have closed in the last ten years (ours being one of them) - and he wanted to talk to me. I told him I would call him later in the afternoon.
We talked for 15-20 minutes as I drove to visit someone recovering from a broken hip. The conversation brought back many memories of what has transpired over the past years … stories of success and failure, joys and regrets, heartaches and sleepless nights. But, most of all, I was reminded of the faithfulness of our God in Christ through it all.
For some reason - even days before my conversation with John Wisely (the reporter) - the word of the Lord I was sharing this week was, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident." (Psalm 27.1-3) It was this psalm that kept me going through those sleepless nights. It is a word of promise that I knew would encourage those I was visiting this week.
The psalm concludes with a prayer, and you might say, a little self-talk. "Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path" (Psalm 27.11) is the prayer. It is one thing to know God's will. I find, for me, it often is a totally different story to follow it. That's where the self-talk comes in. My initial "stormy first draft" (thanks, Brene Brown) seldom has much in common with God's will. Rather, it reveals the evil that dwells inside of me (the real adversaries of which the psalmist speaks). Recognizing this, God's Word directs me back to his promises, "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27.13-14)
In the nearly 25 years that I have been at STL, the one thing I have seen more than anything else is the faithfulness of our God in Christ. His faithfulness in forgiving me all my sins and shortcomings. His faithfulness in continually raising me up - time after time - to walk in the newness of the life he gives. His faithfulness in doing the same for person after person, family after family, through the power of his Word and Sacraments.
What's next? Well, in the short term, I expect to walk a Free Press photographer through our building this morning. Outside of this, the day-to-day remains the same (only different) - telling stories to children and reaching out to anyone and everyone the Lord brings my way, while continually praying, "teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path". And, over the long-haul, living in the assurance that "I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!"
What's next for STL? Our GSRP Preschool is proving to be a great blessing to our community. God is using our campus as a blessing to many new and different people. Ascension St. John is opening a Wellness Center in our building. The Good News of Jesus will be shared in word and deed. And God will continue to display his faithfulness in our midst.
What's next for you? My advice is simply to turn to Jesus, be attentive to his word, and then "wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord."