I began the first day of my doctoral to ministry program at Gordon-Conwell with a very powerful but surreal experience. For everyone else, we drove to an anonymous graveyard at a random church in Charlotte…for me, I returned to Providence Presbyterian where professional ministry began for me. For everyone else they walked among anonymous markers reflecting on their own mortality and God’s pattern of using our mortal lives for His eternal purposes. For me I walked among names, stories, people, and histories I knew deeply.
In one corner I came to the graveside of a friend whose mother I had visited while she was in CCU as an elderly lady. In the other corner, I came across the grave of a young adult who had been one of my youth students. I had been “busy” with some ministry initiative or travel the weekend of his funeral and had not been able to attend the funeral and so this was the first time I had been to the grave.
Sitting in the midst of that graveyard surveying names, and dates, ages, and people whose families I knew, and others whom I think I knew, I realized how blessed I have been to work for three churches in Charlotte. If even just but a vapor in Gods timing, seeing these markers made me realize how many people have touched my life–and I pray conversely I pointed to Christ for them.
As I begin my own journey away from the safe and secure “known” world of my ministry and into the unknown steps of my next chapter, this walk through the graveyard–where ministry began for me, I realized that it is not through my steps but through God’s. How He has the power to take even death and restore it to life.
And as we gathered to reflect, the professor began to quote my life verse of scripture: Galatians 2:20
“I no longer live but Christ lives in me; the life I live in the body I lively faith in the Son of God who died and gave himself for me.”