The beginning of school always reminds me of how much I liked report cards. No, really. Think about it, how much in life do we get measured and graded and then told how we did? They came at regular intervals and I could almost always hear, “You are not working up to your potential.” I don’t know if I ever did, but I was in school for the better part of my life including four graduate schools. Not only did the grades tell you how you were doing, they also told you how much you could improve if you tried. Nothing else in my life was ever so regular, so constant, so trusted, or so useful. As a pastor, only when it came time to renew your contract did you find out—not how well you were responding to God’s call—but how the people in that church liked you. I seldom got really good reports and was fired from one church but I don’t think that had anything to do with how well I was fulfilling my duties, still, if they hadn’t told me they didn’t want me back, I wouldn’t be here. So that, too, must have part of God’s plan even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.
Every night when I close my eyes, I think about what it would be like if I never opened them again. Sort of like that prayer that Elie Wiesel told me he prayed every night, “So God, how’d I do today? Did I make you proud? Or did I make you ashamed?” I think about that same sentiment but not about the previous day but my whole life. I think I could close my eyes forever and for once my report card would have nothing to say about my unrealized potential. Over all, I think it would be good—far from perfect, but good. Of course I have regrets, especially about the people I hurt both intentionally and unintentionally, but on the whole, I think it has been a life well lived in the service of my Living Lord. That I open my eyes again every morning just tells me that my work here is not yet done. There is still a connection to be made, a nudge needed by someone, maybe a scholarship to become a teacher. I don’t know how God is using me to further His plans, but I don’t need to know—I just need to be available and obedient every day that my feet may follow the path that God has chosen for me and not the one I want to follow. Up to now, I think God is more on the “proud” side, but I won’t know for sure until all is truly over. All I want to hear is, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That will be quite enough, don’t you think?