I was working on my sermon this week, and I am going to share a story from my life that I haven’t really shared with a lot of people.  I thought it would be a good story to share here as well.  (So, if you read this before the sermon on Sunday… no spoilers…)

A couple years ago, a friend told me about the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program that is offered through Wabash College.  It sounded like a great program.  Pastors from across the state were selected to take part, and many of the sessions tackled practical issues that clergy have to deal with on a regular basis.  They brought in top-notch presenters and speakers, leaders in their field.  It also included a couple of trips – one national, one international.  She encouraged me to apply for it, and I decided to go for it.

I’m always looking for ways to improve myself as a pastor and leader, because I feel like I still have a long way to go.  I applied for the program.  A couple months later, I received a letter saying that they received a lot of great applications for the program, and unfortunately, I was not selected.  I read it: we got a lot of great applications, and we got yours as well.  I still struggle with self-esteem issues from time to time.

I was disappointed to say the least.  I wasn’t hinging all my hopes for the future on this program, but it would have been nice to be a part of it.  A couple of my friends are in it now, and I’ve heard more good things about it.  At the time, I just couldn’t understand why this particular opportunity was not going to be available to me.  I got over it quick though.  I’m happy for my friends who are taking part in it.

Then something unimaginable happened in my life: my wife was pregnant.  Now, those that know my story know that the pregnancy wasn’t the unimaginable part – we’ve already had four of those that ended in miscarriage.  The unimaginable part was that she continued to be pregnant.  To be honest, neither one of us was too excited when we first heard the news.  We were in the adoption process.  We hadn’t been selected by a birth mother yet, but we were on the list, and had been for several months at this point.  We decided to put the adoption on hold and focus on the pregnancy – which we were sure wasn’t going to last.  However, it did… for the most part.  Our little girl came along at 25 weeks and 4 days.  Just, you know, 14 weeks and 3 days early.  And that was after 12 days of hospitalized bed rest for my wife.

We spent 117 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), watching our baby girl grow strong and healthy, and finally brought her home on August 29, 2015 – just a couple weeks after her due date.  We went up to Castleton (a 45 minute drive) every single day during her 117-day stay.  And you know what never crossed my mind – the Wabash program.

During this time in the hospital, I would have had to leave home three or four times, including a week-long trip across the country.  I don’t know if I could have done it with my baby girl in the hospital.  In fact, it was a relief that I didn’t have to figure it out.  Turns out, not being accepted into the program was the best thing for me at that time in my life.

I guess that’s the benefit of hindsight.