Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
~ Psalm 23:6
So much of the time when I read the 23rd Psalm, I am once again transported back to Trish Tull's Hebrew class at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Summer Hebrew, also known as "Hebrew Boot Camp," was the first class all incoming Masters of Divinity students were required to take during the summer before fall classes begin at LPTS.
Our group of new students, mostly women, and like myself, mostly second career, would gather for several hours each day. With her wonderful southern drawl, Trish would take us through daily lessons, and invite us to look at the Bible as a text book, as well as, a source of inspiration.
The class nearly "ate my lunch," and I must admit there were some days I worried that I may have made a wrong decision to leave my job with two small children to care for, to follow what I felt God was calling me to do.
On one particular day, several weeks into this five-week course, she started the class after we all had experienced a terrible test failure with these words, "Look, your calling is not based on the grade you receive in this class. Your ability to serve others is not based on a grade. It's based on your ability to be present for others."
There's a reason why LPTS fills its classrooms with teachers that are both excellent scholars, but also, excellent pastors.
The room was silent. Not because there wasn't more to say, it was because peace was invited in among us.
She reminded us that while the twenty-third Psalm reminds us that "goodness and mercy shall follow us," but that the word for follow in Hebrew also means to, "pursue after."
In that moment we all suddenly realized that God, regardless of our grade, would continue to call out to us.
It became a milestone, and truly a reminder for me, and advice I have shared with many who have experienced failure, or have felt they were not "good enough to serve," that when God calls us, God doesn't ever stop chasing after us, wanting goodness and mercy to exist in our daily lives.
There is strength in knowing that this exists for us, and that God wants each of us to experience these things.
I'm so grateful for this lesson, the teacher that was also a pastor, and for a God that continues to prove time and time again that each of us are worth the effort.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.