Any one remember the Jesus movement and it's music? If you do, you may think of Love Song. They had a song that sums up where I want to be - Little Country Church.
No religion, not stuffy, talking about the revival and the need for love - common good - putting the past aside... I could stop here and just tell you, that's what I want. I want to pastor that church.
As a church kid, I spent a long time agonize over the most critical question of my young life, what was God's will for my life? If one didn't find God's will and say yes to it, your life would be unfulfilled and filled with regret. As a teenager, I felt I was called to be a missionary. I had never seen a woman pastor, seems that it was okay to go to deep dark Africa and shed light as a woman, but you couldn’t preach in your local pulpit. Never did understand that, do you? An early marriage to a man called to preach and I was on my way. However, he turned out to be an abuser and when he beat and abandoned me with three children, I was sure that I would forever be the person known as someone who didn’t fulfill their calling. I was divorced. To complicate the matter, I remarried.
It took quite a few years of slithering into the church as first a single mother and then a remarried person, before I considered that Romans 11:29 God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty - never canceled, never rescinded, also included me. While I am convinced, unfortunately a lot of my brothers and sisters in authority and in the pew, are not.
I was asked a similar question to the one your Kingdom Bloggers are answering today a couple of years ago. I was sitting with the former worship leader of The Well, the small church I had lovingly pastored for a few years. He said, Joyce, if you could do anything you wanted, if location, money, husband, family, history, etc., if none of it were a factor and it was only you answering, what would you want to do – how would you serve the Kingdom?
Of course, being human, there is a part of me that would like to fill large arenas and be known as Joyce Lighari, the Joyce who replaced Joyce Meyers – when people think of the preacher Joyce, they think of me, not her… Then I thought well, I can teach. I have lots of education now. But that wasn’t the question. The question, like our question this week, was not what do you think people will “let” you do, or what would you settle for, it was what do you want to do for Jesus?
Over Uncle Hershel’s breakfast at Cracker Barrel, I answered him. I said, I want to pastor a small church. Yes, a small church! Why? Because I want to know the sheep. I want to journey with them through their joys and sorrows. I wanted to marry them, welcome their babies into the church, baptize them, visit them in the hospital, and do a fitting celebration of their lives as they go home to Jesus. I want to pastor.
Last fall as beaming parents, my husband and I attended the White Coat Ceremony of our son. As a first year medical student, he was donned with the garment of his calling. The President of the Medical School made some brief remarks. He told the student that their's was the second highest calling of humanity. He said the first was to care for the souls of people as a Pastor. My dream is a high calling and one that I’ve said yes to – now I sit and wait for God to fulfill His call on my life.