For the past several months, I’ve been supplying the pulpit for a small local congregation between pastors. “Supplying the pulpit” means that I fill the role of the preacher for the Sunday morning services. Through the week, I read and study the given Scripture, prepare the sermon and a five-minute children’s message, and select the hymns, blessing and benediction—and do a lot of praying.
You see, I’m not an ordained minister or even a certified lay preacher. I’m a Christian writer and speaker. I’ve been writing my weekly column since 1997—that’s nearly 15 years. I’ve studied the Bible through group and personal Bible studies, but the years I taught Good News Club (a children’s Bible club) immersed me in Scripture and taught me more than anything I’ve ever done, even teaching Sunday school.
I’d wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school, but I fell in love with teaching on the first day I student taught. Writing went on the back burner while I taught in the local schools and raised a family. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I began to take writing seriously. I submitted a story to the Guideposts writing contest. “Wisdom from an Old Refrigerator” didn’t win—but it was published. Encouraged, I submitted more of my work and was published in The Upper Room, Teachers in Focus and Home Life. Sometime during those early years of writing, I envisioned a devotional column in the local newspaper. It took a few years for the vision to become a reality. In 2009 God, Me and a Cup of Tea placed second in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s Keystone Press Awards.
In 2000 and 2002, I published Minute Meditations: Meeting God in Everyday Experiences and I Lift up My Eyes, compilations of some of my columns. That’s what led to speaking, which I found I loved as much as teaching. And the speaking led to the call to fill the pulpit.
Who’d a thunk it? I mean, I was the child who was in trouble almost daily in grade school. I misbehaved in church, throwing my best friend’s gloves over the altar rail at Mass in first grade. When Sister had me sit beside her, I’d wait until everyone had their heads bowed and eyes closed in prayer to pull off the shoes of the student kneeling in front of me. I was the one who, when asked by the parish priest why I was failing religion, answered, “I don’t like religion.”
Looking back on my life, it’s like Someone was connecting the dots all those years. You’ve read it here often—God has a plan and purpose for all of our lives. The older I get, the more convinced I am of that.
He calls us. We respond by either being like Jonah and running as far from God as we can or we move forward into His call.
Me? I’m moving forward—because that’s where all the joy and fun are.
Lord, You know me better than I know myself. Thank you for not only connecting the dots of my life, but also for putting them there in the first place. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 139