There is a wall hanging that adorns the wall above my desk at home that quotes a portion of Joshua 24:15: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” For most of my life, I have equated this verse with my father as I think about the way in which he raised me and my sisters to serve the Lord in the way we live our lives. I find it fitting that this was the very verse that was used within my sister’s wedding ceremony recently.
As we talked about Joshua in my church’s journey through The Story, I was reminded of this verse once again. Although this verse wasn’t mentioned directly in our study, I considered Joshua’s courageous actions and how his leadership brought the Israelites into the Promised Land.
As Pastor Tim preached from the book of Joshua, he asked those in the congregation if we could remember a time when we had stepped out in faith and chosen to be courageous. I thought about this for a moment, but I couldn’t seem to recall a specific time in my own life when I had exemplified that kind of courage, but I immediately thought of someone else who had been faithful to God’s call over his life and that was my father.
Normally, I don’t write about the intimate details of my family life without permission from those involved, but I am hoping I can make an exception here. For a long time, I have wanted to express just how proud I am of my father and all he has accomplished in recent years. No one could have dreamed that just over fifteen years ago, our lives would have turned completely upside down, but now I can’t imagine not going down that road and making that change.
I was a teenager when Mom and Dad left their longtime jobs to pursue a new calling on their lives. Dad, who had worked in sales most of his adult life now considered what it would look like to become a pastor. He began to take classes and gain the necessary experience, while my mom took on part-time work in a nearby community. I know things were tight financially during that time, but I never heard Mom or Dad complain. Dad worked long, hard hours, holding down part-time work, his school schedule, and eventually summer internships. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night to see the light on in the den; I knew that he was studying hard and never settling for second best.
There were a few times when I knew he must have been struggling. I am so much like my father in that I often let stress and others’ expectations take hold, and this took place a few times over the years when my dad was in school and doing his best to put food on the table. More than once, I am sure he wanted to give up, and one time, I even heard him express those words. But I, and the rest of my family, loved him too much to let him throw in the towel. We were in this with him until the end— the result being a Masters of Divinity and the promise of a church where he could minister.
Like I said earlier, this was not the plan Mom and Dad had for us as a family. They had built their dream home on the hill, and I believe they fully intended to retire there when the time was right. But my father recounts that one day he was walking from the shed up to the house, and he distinctly heard God’s voice. In that moment, it seemed that God was telling him to leave the house that he had built and follow God’s lead into the ministry. I’m sure that my dad’s first reaction was to respond in disbelief. From childhood, he had told his mother that he was not going to be a pastor. But it looked like God was going to lead him down that path whether he felt qualified to do so or not.
So in the summer of 2004, Mom, Dad, my sisters, and I left our dream home and set off down the road to southern Minnesota. We knew where we were going but were unaware of what would be on the horizon. Eight years have passed since that day, and a lot has changed. But I look back now and marvel at God’s faithfulness. He has blessed my dad’s church and his ministry, and I know the members of his congregation have opened their arms to him with the most incredible loving welcome.
My father was courageous and stepped out in faith as He pursued God’s calling on his life, and I know he continues to seek God in all he does today. He is a great example of what it means to embrace what God has in store for each of us and not let our own selfish goals and dreams stand in the way. My father’s household will be one that will always be in service to Him.