As I prepare for my ordination service this weekend (May 21, 2017) I can’t help but think of how the Lord has led me to this point. Six years ago, this June, Lindsey and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary by candidating at Pike. Nervous and excited I stood behind the pulpit to give my first sermon in this church. Following the service, the church graciously invited us to serve here. As we drove down the highway we were overjoyed at the response that we received and ecstatic about the opportunity that was before us. There was no way we could have ever known what the Lord would have in store for us by putting us here! Abundant amounts of love, lessons, and grace awaited us.
When I arrived at Pike, Youth Ministry was all that I knew and, honestly, all that I wanted to do. I studied Youth Ministry in school, sure that this is what God wanted from me. As my friends talked about the stepping stone of youth ministry, I didn’t have any dreams or aspirations of doing anything else. I arrived at Pike ready to learn and grow in ministry which is exactly what the Lord had in mind. There were lessons filled with joy and lessons filled with heartache but God was clearly in them all. I needed to be humbled, I needed to understand what it looked like to serve, and grow in relationship with our people. The Lord used accidents, sickness, and disappointment to teach me all of those things. In Ps. 119:71, David said, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statues.” As much as anyone would love to go without suffering, there are tremendous truths that the Lord can teach about Himself and His Word through them. As I look back, I know that I serve, care, and love in the way that I do because of those things.
In March of 2014, I stood behind the pulpit to preach again. I wasn’t thinking anything permanent. I thought I could fill in for a season but this would turn out to be the first of many sermons to come. I trembled up front knowing that I really didn’t know what I was doing. There was no strength or expertise in me to do what the Lord was asking me to do. However, when I served in this new capacity I saw something amazing happen, God was equipping me in each and every way necessary. From performing funeral services for very dear people in our congregation to leading meetings to preparing sermons. The Lord was strengthening me to serve in ways I never thought I could or would. Thankfully, there were others in my life who could see this also. I am so thankful for our elders who didn’t push but prayed with me as we moved towards the transition. I fought the Lord’s leading for a long time but through our elders’ encouragement and our congregation’s love, patience, and grace I eventually got to the point where I could see clearly the step the Lord was calling me to.
A verse that has become near and dear to me throughout this ministry so far has been, 1 Tim. 1:12. Paul looks back at his own ministry in thankfulness and says, “I thank Christ Jesus, my Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service.” This has been my experience and my praise as well. Even when others didn’t consider me faithful, the Lord did. He could see what others couldn’t and He continues to do what is necessary to make me faithful to this calling at Pike. I love where He has put me into service. I love our people here. I have no doubt that this is what God has called me to and I am confident that the Lord will continue to teach, lead, and equip me for the service He has for me in the days ahead.
Grateful to Serve You, Pastor Rudy