On the night that Jesus was betrayed, we see how he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed (Luke 22:42 ESV): "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."
A couple of things stand out as we read this prayer. We see that, first of all, Jesus didn’t look forward to the suffering he was to endure. He knew what was to happen. But, if he could somehow satisfy God’s will without enduring this pain, he asked that he might not have to withstand it.
I think that most of us can understand his feelings. None of us like to suffer. None of us enjoy pain. If it’s possible, we would much rather avoid it. And so it’s understandable to us that, even though he is God, Jesus felt that same way. Because he was fully man, like you and me, he didn’t want to endure unnecessary suffering.
However, he was willing to endure suffering that he might satisfy the will of God. And we know that it was the will of God for Jesus to suffer. It’s was God’s will that Jesus should die upon the cross that he might pay the penalty of our sin.
The will of God for our life in no way compares to that of Jesus. We have been given a great calling by God. We’ve been called to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. But our suffering can never accomplish the end that his death produced. However, there are times when the will of God for our life involves pain of some sort.
For this reason, like Jesus, we submit ourselves to the pain. We submit ourselves to the Lord, that his will might be accomplished. And we excitedly anticipate what God will do as he works in our life.
This partially explains how I feel right now, as I leave the people of Ebenezer and Northwood. In the few years that I’ve lived among you, I’ve grown to love the people of this church and this community. And, for this reason, it pains me to leave.
I am also not a person who enjoys moving around a great deal. I like stability. I prefer to build long-term relationships. I feel that the best ministry can take place once the pastor and the congregation get past the “honeymoon” phase into the comfortable routine of life together. And for this reason, in my mind, it’s much too soon for me to move on.
However, that being said, I’m also excited to see what the Lord has in store. I know that his will for me, and for all of us, is good and gracious. And, for this reason, I believe that the greatest blessing will be experienced when we submit ourselves to his will, no matter how painful it may be.
For this reason, I want to thank the people of Ebenezer and Northwood for allowing me to serve you the past few years. Please know that you will be in my prayers. And I hope that you’ll share my confidence that the Lord will work everything out for our mutual blessing.
I ask for your continued prayers as my family and I move to Beulah, and I begin serving as pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Pray that God will smooth our transition and that he will use us to bless the people of that church and community.