By Eric Olson, Elder
In the Fall of 2019, I was doing my best to keep it all together. Between work, chores, little kids, house projects, church and everything else pulling at me, I was stretched thin. Sound familiar? It’s tough trying to keep it together all the time and when you add one more thing to the mix it can feel like someone handed you a box of bricks to carry up five flights of stairs that seem to never end. I’m embarrassed to admit, but that’s how I felt when Pastor Brad called me one afternoon with a big question.
“Do you know why I am calling?” I could pretty much guess since I’ve never gotten a call from Pastor Brad before. I said, “I have been nominated to serve as an Elder at Cherry Creek”. And Pastor Brad said, “Yes!”. The first thing that went through my mind was, how can I possibly do this right now? My wife and I had 3 kids under the age of 6 at the time, I had recently been given a promotion at work that entailed more responsibility and stress, and we had been dealing with some extended family drama. Selfishly, I wanted to hide under a rock and hoped that Pastor Brad would forget to follow-up with me for an answer. I knew that serving as an elder would mean more work, more time and a big, big, big spiritual target on my back. Surprisingly, my wife had a peace about this. Where was my peace and why couldn’t I be excited to serve?
A small part of me knew that this call to serve was part of God’s plan for my life a long time ago. I wanted to avoid answering because deep down I was afraid of the commitment and afraid because I knew God was going to change me. It would be the type of change that requires testing and trials, obedience, more time in prayer, carrying the burden of many and feeling the weight, perseverance, trust, seeking God’s will and knowing that no matter what, God is in control. I was also ashamed because of my past. I’ve made so many mistakes and bad decisions, and I’ve hurt people. Why would God want me to serve and help lead his church? He knows who I am and what I have done.
Then I remembered the Apostle Paul. God chose him even though he persecuted Christians. God chooses the weak and the broken. He is ready and willing to take someone stubborn and selfish like me and teach me his love, truth and wisdom and give me the confidence I need to lead boldly. He is saying, “I know you, and I know you can help do the work that I have set before you and your fellow elders.” He is also saying, “trust me” and “I will be with you always”.
It’s all about trust, isn’t it? It’s so hard to give up control when it feels like you are at the end of your rope. I had to take a breath and remember who created the heavens and the earth, who created me, and who knows my every thought and need before I know them. Why wouldn’t I trust the creator of all things? If he is calling me to serve his church and his people now, then he will equip me to do it, regardless of what is going on in my life right now.
A few verses came to mind as I thought and prayed about the big question.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Galatians 2:20, My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So, I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Psalm 143:8, Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
It took a few days, but I prayed and found peace about the answer to the big question. My answer was, “Yes, Lord! I am ready and willing to serve you.” Only God can give true peace, only he can sustain us through the busyness of life, but we must trust him and let go.
Since becoming an elder, life has not gotten easier. A few months after I was sworn in to serve Cherry Creek Presbyterian, our nation encountered an unprecedented situation with Covid-19 followed by racial tensions and social unrest. How we do life, relationships and worship of our Lord and Savior have been turned upside down. However, I’m doing my best to continue praying, trusting in God and reminding myself that he is always with me, enabling me for each challenge he sets before me. Through God, all things are possible and if we remember what he has done for us then we can trust him to get us through our current and future struggles.
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