The picture above is me… sort of.
I know, I’m not a turtle. But many of you know that, if a spirit animal was really a thing, for me it would be a toss up between a sloth and a turtle. I’m not particularly quick about stuff… generally speaking.
This picture is really more about how I feel at this point in my life. Several days ago I was able to participate in the graduation exercises of Dallas Theological Seminary. In a couple of months, when a bit more paper work is done and a few more hoops have been jumped through, I will hang my diploma in my study next to this picture.
This picture is in itself a testimony of how I find myself passing such a milestone. It was taken by my dear brother after hearing me speak of the old observation of the turtle on a fence post. It’s a simple observation really.
If you see a turtle on a fence post, there is one thing you can know most surely: he did not get there by himself.
That’s my story. I find myself in a place in my life to which I could never have arrived on my own strength or ability or effort. My amazing wife and this crazy kids of mine (born and otherwise) have endured and supported and allowed me to invest the time and energy needed. Our pals (a.k.a. the Coffee Club) have endured so many groaning sessions and crying spells.
So many of my brothers at arms—my pastor brothers who encouraged and supported and prayed for me along the way—helped me through more than they know. My family—brothers and sisters and parents–did the same.
There were several professors that invested more than just a transmission of information by helping me, encouraging me, and challenging me to genuinely, “Teach truth. Love well.” My mentor for this final year has invested so many hours in listening, encouraging, praying, and teaching.
And then there is the family of faith that motivated this degree in the first place. My CalvaryDuncan family has patiently allowed, endured, and encouraged this process. Their prayers and patience have been so crucial to this journey, but the truth is that I began this journey out of a longing to be the kind of pastor that I believe they deserve.
Along this mountain-climb, several folks have come along at crucial moments and made enormous investments in my life and ministry. Some of those have been in financial ways (including the entirety of my last two semesters’ tuition), some with a particular conversation or prayer, and some with a kindness or gift or gesture. All of these moments and helps have helped me carry on.
All of these folks and so many more have figuratively lent a hand to lift a middle-aged turtle to a place that he could never have managed to reach on his own. So I guess the question is obvious: why?
I can only believe that all of these amazing people were a part of a extraordinarily beautiful example of what Paul taught us so plainly:
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all time, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
They were and are, each and every one, vehicles of the amazing grace of God through which He has provided for me everything I need to follow His plan for my life and ministry.
As I pause here atop this utterly unlikely fence post, I can only say to them all, “Thanks for the lift!”