Rob Lee’s This I Believe

Rob - Statesville, North Carolina
Entered on January 18, 2010
Age Group: Under 18

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans… One of my greatest mentors told me that on a warm day in June three years ago. My greatest moment so far in ministry and the most treacherous experience one could ever face came at the end of an October I will never forget.

Abbey Tsumas was a person who nurtured my calling. She was present whenever I was preaching in Statesville. She even went as far as to call me sexy in my robe I wore for preaching. She told me I would be an amazing minister and she wanted me to preside at her wedding, the greatest honor a minister could have with such an amazing person. It pains me every day of my life that I will never have that opportunity. I often wondered at the time why God, the same God who had called me to ministry, could allow such enormous suffering to occur in my life.

I was just recovering from a depression that had crippled my very existence; everything seemed to be getting better but then all of the sudden with Abbey’s death I was crippled again. I was supposed to preach that Sunday, Abbey was supposed to be there to hear me. I didn’t know if I could do it. The night before All Saints Sunday, my favorite Sunday of the year, I met with Abbey’s family. They wanted me to preach at her funeral, could I do it? What could possibly be any worse than to have to stand in a church and declare hope at a senseless tragedy? I can’t say I could do it by myself but I was restless, and I thought of an old movie that said, you cannot find peace while avoiding life. So I did something my heart told me to do but my mind will never understand; I accepted the Tsumas’ offer.

That week I preached to over a thousand people, in some strange sense it seems appropriate that my biggest preaching gig ever came from Abbey, she was working her magic again. I find myself amazed at the vast canopy woven by the ages, a canopy that has nurtured me, with friends like Abbey and a family that loves me. I believe that in my own special way I will change the world because of people like Abbey. What is my life purpose? It is a question that is hard to answer, because the answer to this simple question is continually changing. My life purpose is different today than it was yesterday. I want to be one of those people on the front of a cultural revolution; I want to help in some small way to end the injustices, the prejudices that Abbey in her own special way worked so hard to end by accepting everyone.

I may never see the day in which we no longer judge people because they are different, that day when war is obsolete, and when poverty is no more, but I want to see the day that this process begins. I want to make a difference. I don’t think I want to be all over the news, stories about how I am changing the world in a big way, people like Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Gandhi who did that. To quote Gandhi, I want to be the change I want to see in the world. But I want to do it in simple ways; I want to give all I can give until I can give no more. I want to confront prejudices, in whatever form they present themselves. These are values I have learned in my everyday life some of them from Abbey. I sometimes wonder how I can accomplish this, how can I make a difference?

For one, I have a loving network of family and friends, and second and most important, I have a God, who cries for social justice far more than I ever could, who loves Abbey and gave her a calling in her life. I feel that yearning in the pit of my stomach to be one of the people who stand and call for equality. I have a lot to look forward to in life, but I know the road won’t be easy.

To quote a local poet “Where was God when Abbey died? He was right there by her side, he loved her, she was not alone, he held her close, he took her home” I will miss Abbey for the rest of my life, but I cherish the moments I have. Every time I put on my robe to preach, every time I preach a sermon, I will remember her way in which God used her to show me my calling. I will be forever grateful. What do I believe? Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. So throw out the plans, hope for the best and believe in the future. This I believe.