First, I’ve come to see the mundane nature of our daily existence differently. We all aspire, if we’re honest, in some measure, to achieve and do great things. However, life quickly has a way of knocking such thoughts from our heads. The majority of us will live “boring” and “average” lives. Yet, within the mediocrity of daily existence lays a divine quality that bears cosmic significance. All of life that is lived to God and in imitation of him in Christ helps to further his creational and redemptive agenda in this world; no matter if its cleaning toilets or managing a fortune 500 company, working in the nursery or preaching on Sunday.
Second, I’ve been taught by the laments of the Old Testament to see that in a world east of Eden, where death and evil seem so dominant, faith at times is shrouded in doubt. Whether it is doubt that arises from profound suffering as in Lamentations or the seeming absurdity of life related in Ecclesiastes. In each case, a faithful hope in and reverence for God emerges from under the shroud of doubts and questions attendant with a marred existence.
Third, I’m also learning that true power comes not in the form of physical prowess, superior rhetoric, economic affluence, or military might; but rather, it comes in humility and weakness. The pseudo concept of power dominant in our culture from the liberal to the conservative is fundamentally oriented toward self gratification and self interest through either the overt or the subtle exploitation of others. In contrast, true power or we could say divine power is fundamentally oriented toward the other through humble and self-sacrificial service. This is most readily seen in Jesus “who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.”
Lastly, it would be remiss of me if I did not relay that I’m learning, however reluctantly, that I need others. I need a community in order to live this life well. For that reason, I would like to offer thanks to those who have most helped me through this particular season. First, I thank God who through his continual mercies allows me to continue despite my egregious and recurrent failures.
I thank my wife, who has offered me love and support without which this season would’ve undoubtedly been more difficult and less enjoyable.
I thank my parents for their self-sacrificial support and the ceaseless prayers they have offered for me from before my birth, during the times when I seemed the furthest thing from a loving son, and even now when I may seem little improved.
I want to thank my wife’s parents for their loving generosity and caring hospitality that have made their home a needed respite.
I want to thank my friends Jon and Wes with whom I’ve cut grass, read thousands of pages aloud, engaged in tomfoolery, and with whom I’ve been able to express my thoughts, frustrations, and doubts freely.
Lastly, I would like to thank all those from the seminary and this church who have tolerated me and have aided me in many and varied ways.