My grandfather passed away last month. A few hours after receiving the news, the memory of a long-forgotten college paper crossed my mind.
It was late. Both night and tears had fallen, but instead of going to bed I sat at my desk searching through documents.
There. There! The glow of the computer screen lit up the room as I opened the file.
After three months of reading, writing, studying, presenting and discussing, our final assignment in this particular class centered around the idea of being “called to ministry.” What does the phrase mean? What does it look like? Am I called to ministry and if so, how?
The paper weaves together multiple stories — multiple “calls” — but it begins with a pastor living in North Carolina.
Before I could scroll down to his words, to the quotes saved from an interview with my grandfather years earlier, God’s kindness met me.
I knew what I was looking for, but I didn’t know what I would find.
A date is listed in the top left corner of the twelve-page paper. According to the document, I made the final edits exactly six years and one day earlier.
It’s a small detail, to be sure, but as I sat there in my pajamas, I couldn’t help but laugh as a smile spread across my tear-stained face.
Even then, six years and one day earlier, God knew. Over the past month or two, my friends and I have jokingly said we’re ready to get back to “precedented times.” We want the light at the end of the tunnel, the assurance that there’s an end-date to sheltering in place.
But there, with the document open, it was as clear as the date displayed on the page: God holds time and He holds us, all at the same time.
Ours is a God who cannot be taken by surprise, who knows how the story will end but chooses to walk with us on every page. Ours is a God who cannot stand to stay away, who comes close and shows His kindness in the smallest of details.
Three days later, I stood in a black dress in a North Carolina cemetery.
I held a funeral program in my hands, and once again a date got my attention. Every person gathered that day came not because of the years listed, but because of how he lived and loved in the dash in-between.
Small details . . . as small as a dash.
On page eleven of my college paper, after sharing my own journey of wrestling with and finally accepting the call to ministry, I wrote the following:
The life and story of each minister is unique, as is every call to ministry, and many choose not to answer the call. However, I saw clearly the importance of answering the call – not just for oneself or for those that will be impacted immediately, but for those who will follow in your footsteps. As we live a life of ministry, we leave a legacy behind us. The truth of this is displayed prominently in my life: Pastor Al is my grandfather.
Choosing to answer the call to ministry greatly impacted his life as well as the lives of his children, including my mother. I was raised to know who Jesus is and there was never a time in my life when my grandfather was not serving and pastoring.
Everyday faithfulness may look small and feel ordinary in the moment, but it will leave a legacy that speaks volumes.
Everyday faithfulness doesn’t chase the next big thing; it does the next right thing.
Everyday faithfulness is not about accolades, fame, or follower counts; it bends low to serve.
One day, someone will engrave a stone or hold a funeral program with my name and two years listed. The same is true for you. But for now, we still have time left in the dash, in the days in-between.
What we write and create matters. How we live, speak, and serve matters.
You’re leaving a legacy, even as you make a peanut butter sandwich or an Excel spreadsheet. You’re opening doors and paving the way for generations to come.
On the final page of the paper, I wrote these words:
I saw a life of ministry lived out and this likely played a role in answering my own call to ministry. My grandfather and I now share a love for words and the responsibility to encourage and serve others. He faithfully continues to answer his call by speaking at a pulpit each week and I continue to write online.
In some ways, this post is a continuation of his legacy.
God holds time and He holds us, all at the same time. May we be faithful in the time that we have left, choosing to live lives of everyday faithfulness, believing that they will ultimately point to the one who is eternally faithful.