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Thinking Out Loud

The Story Continues

by Michael Jinkins | Aug 15, 2017


G. Todd WilliamsEditor's note: Today's "Thinking Out Loud" blog post is written by G. Todd Williams. Todd (pictured) is a Louisville Seminary alum (MDiv. '99) and is the 2017-2018 president of the Louisville Seminary Alum Board of Directors. He is also a chaplain at Houston Hospice, a nonprofit organization that provides physical, social and spiritual support to individuals with a life-limiting diagnosis, and their loved ones, irrespective of their ethnicity or beliefs.

A few months ago Michael Jinkins asked if I would be a guest blogger for “Thinking Out Loud.” It didn’t take me long to say “yes,” but it has taken me longer to think about what I would share with the Louisville Seminary community.

It has been nearly twenty years since I was a student, however, I still consider my life to be filled with new lessons about life and God each day. I am just returning from a weeklong camp with a group of junior high youth from Southeast Texas. Talk about daily life lessons! I was asked to serve as the keynoter for the camp, with our theme being loosely focused on the adventures of Indiana Jones, and scripture being from Lamentations 3:23-24:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”
While I thought about God’s mercies, and how the word “mercies” is connected to the Hebrew word chesed, I was reminded of what God’s compassion and everlasting covenant of God’s love looked like.

One of the things that I learned early in my ministry is that being vulnerable invites God’s mercies to be seen and shared.

I spoke to the youth of an experience I had eight years ago that changed my life completely in a matter of minutes. I was in a terrible auto accident returning from work one day. Within a few days following an accident, I would learn that I had cancer and that I would need to do treatment or I would die within a year.

There are no words to describe the hopelessness that enters when you suddenly realize that your options involve moments of desperation, regret and pain. While it is easy to embrace the darkness often associated with a diagnosis like cancer, I had to work to see God’s compassion in this situation, even as I lost my job, my home, and sometimes, my faith. There is no amount of theological training that can prepare any of us for all of the moments of our life’s journey.

As I shared with the group of youth, I discovered that part of me was back on that journey. I thought about the questions that I had asked God, and I suppose that I realized that once again there were simply no answers. I was reminded, and commented, as I read the beginning of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 to the youth one session, that there are times for all things. While that chapter is closed, there are still pages that I revisit from that period of my life.

I thought about my camp experiences as a youth, and that, like the writer of Ecclesiastes shares, they were times with definitive beginnings and endings. Significant chapters that shaped my life, but also, my cancer experience served as a chapter that forever changed me.

The significance of the chapters we breathe helps us to understand the importance of God’s presence and the unending availability of God’s mercies in our lives.  Prayerfully I shared that the importance of each chapter, whether good or bad, eventually serves as the means by which we can relate chesed to one another.

For any of us, the idea of God’s everlasting mercies can sometimes remain a mystery, while our ability to be bearers of that love to one another must prevail.

As I closed my week out with these youth, I have to admit, I looked into the rearview mirror as I drove away from the camp and asked that God remind me of the newness of each day. That I could close that chapter once more and simply give thanks.

I hope that each of you may find a way to be the living expression of God’s compassion and love.

Stay in God’s grip!

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