All of this good stuff, however, comes with a cost. Normally the cost is simply time away from my girls, which in itself is never fun, but endurable in the short term. Campus ministry is a specialized ministry that puts a lot of us out "on the island" in our local context, so we need this time together, even though it takes us away from family and friends. This time, however, the cost is considerably more painful. A flood swept through Ames this week, and unfortunately my being at this conference has left Beloved on her own with our girls in Ames with no day care, no potable water from city lines and heat indexes above 100 degrees. They're safe: friends have provided drinking water, there's water for bathing and toilets, the electricity is running and we didn't have any water in the house. But this week will never make Beloved's list of top ten favorite weeks of all time. Not by a long, long shot.
All of us, not just pastors, have these moments where your vocation, whatever it may be, comes with a price. For the farmer, it's the continual anxiety about rain, sunshine, hail and the gazillion other things that can ruin a crop every single year. For the teacher, it's the long hours, low pay and continual managing of all the different hurdles between a student and their educational progress. For the manager, it's juggling schedules and emotions, maintaining the proper balance between caring for employees and remaining the boss. Every job comes with a price to pay. I think the difference between a profession and a vocation is the willingness to pay the price - and maybe vocation takes an unhealthy turn when one doesn't even notice how high the price has become.
I'm going to be uncomfortable most of my time here, not because Beloved has laid a guilt trip on me, but because I'm torn between my vocation as a husband/father and my vocation as a pastor. Jesus help me if I ever stop noticing how much the latter takes away from the former; if that happens, I'm not sufficiently equipped to be either.
Grace & peace,