With appointment season upon us in the United Methodist tradition, this is an exciting, scary, and trusting time in the life of our denomination. Several weeks ago my father-in-law, an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, called to tell my husband and me that he was being reappointed. While my husband’s side of the family has experienced this type of news a few times during their life together, it was surprising news to all of us this year.
You see, my father-in-law was just appointed as a district superintendent last year at this time. While he has thoroughly enjoyed serving the church as a DS, the cabinet and the Bishop felt that there was one specific person to fill the pulpit at another wonderful, vibrant and growing church in our conference: him. So, they asked him if he would consider the move. My in-laws agreed to pursue the opportunity, believing that this is indeed a part of God’s calling.
Perhaps most of us can agree that ministry can really make us feel like wanderers sometimes. I know this has been true of my own ministry journey, and definitely of my in-law’s journey. The calling of God upon our lives breaks us down and prompts us to consider what matters. We are called to give up ourselves so that others might come to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This often has very tangible results. We are called to go. We pack up our families and move—across the world, the country, the state or our districts. We choose to leave our houses that we’ve spent time making into our homes. We say goodbye to loved ones – dear family and friends, as we begin a new transition in the name of calling. We choose to do all of this and more for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is wandering at its best. It’s difficult, but it’s also incredibly life-giving.
As ministers, we must come to terms with wandering as a normal phenomenon for the people of God. We’re in the company of great wanderers who have transformed lives and nations because of their faithful obedience to respond to God’s callings. I think of Abraham, leaving his country, family and father’s home to go to the “land that I will show you.” I think of Moses who, after insisting he was the wrong person for the job multiple times, went back to Egypt anyway. I think of Jesus, who humbled himself and came to earth to live and die for a people that could not help themselves. We have a Savior that wandered like us, but more importantly, we have a Savior that wanders with us as we seek to carry his light and love to the world.
May God use our wandering faithfully, and may we always seek to go where the gospel of Christ is needed. During this appointment season especially, may God’s rest and peace remain with his church and his ministers. Our wanderings are never in vain because Jesus himself goes with us and before us.