Ups and Downs/Downs and Ups

I’ve been up and I’ve been down lately. Some of you know that I was the nominee from South Carolina as a Bishop in the United Methodist Church. I wasn’t elected, but was second throughout the election – painful yet I’m better for the experience. The affirmation from laity and clergy from SC and across the church has been phenomenal. I appreciate everyone who helped. Folks have been saying that I should decide now to go through this gauntlet four years from now. Who knows? On a personal level, no way. However if it was true, and I think it was – that this was something I felt called to do on the day before the election, then it’s still true today or I was delusional to begin with. Thank God for friends and a wonderful family who have been faithful the whole way, and have reminded me of God’s consistent and gracious call.
To think about being a nominee again so quickly is about as appropriate as telling a couple who just experienced a miscarriage to move on because they can have other children. That’s not a comforting thought when it’s heard so soon after a loss. I’ll pray and keep seeking the Lord’s guidance. That’s the downer of the past ten days, and also the upper with the affirmation of God and so many good people.
The other up and down roller coaster has been leaving Lake Junaluska to travel immediately to Atlanta to teach at Emory. I teach “Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit” in the mornings to Course of Study students, and “UM Discipline and Polity” in the afternoons to M.Div. candidates. This has been great, and tiring in a good way. The students are co-learners with me, but I have been simply beat from the emotional stress of the past year.
Then I found out Thursday my middle brother Ralph needed emergency open-heart surgery, so I tore out of here yesterday and headed back to SC to see him. The surgery was a complete success. I have seen him three times in the past 24 hours, and he has already been moved to a room. I am so thankful.
Now I’m back in Atlanta to grade papers and ponder where God is in all of our ups and downs. God is present. God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but does what God does best and that is to help us get through things, all by grace. That’s where I am right now and hope to stay.