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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Next Lap

Updated: May 25, 2022

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

It was my second-born son, Luke, who first acknowledged my own pastoral gifts. All his life, he’d watched his mom—a classroom teacher, a church youth leader, a mama preparing sacred spaces at home. We’d shared our love of learning, and he was in high school when I finally enrolled as a seminary student. And we’d both thought he’d be following in my footsteps, thinking he’d one day be a pastor, too.

But now he’s on his way to law school. The very prestigious, Columbia Law, in New York City. And I just shake my head and chuckle, saying out loud to his dad: Me + You = Luke?!! Because let’s be honest. Law is about as foreign a concept to either of us parents as, let’s say quantum physics.

Of course, it makes perfect sense. (Well, not to me. Not law or physics either.) But it does make perfect sense for Luke. His brilliant mind, and his God-breathed passion for justice. All his life I’ve watched and wondered, the boy’s complexity and compassion, ideology and intellect, rare combination, and no doubt, gifts of God.

He’d just started down this path when I had a vision on a Sunday morning. It was at church, and we were singing, although I do not recall the song. Whatever the lyrics, they led me to pray, a place of surrender, hands lifted, and God showing me. This vision, of me and my son. We two who’d walked together, for so many years, and now he’d be going one way, and me another, and I was certain—because He showed me—my son would be with God.

There have been other visions, too, and not just a mom’s. A few years ago, again at church, this woman from our congregation felt compelled to tell me. She did not know my son, or our family either, but one day she saw Luke out of the corner of her eye and immediately God showed her—this young man would have a special purpose. And I believed her.

I don’t claim to know God’s purposes for Luke. Whether those purposes be lofty or humble, success or sacrifice, grueling or gratifying, or some combination of all the above. I only know what God showed me, and it is enough.

Recently I was reading in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ warning about seeking titles:

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:8-12

Jesus is our teacher, and God is our Father, and we who serve the kingdom of heaven, here in our earthly spaces, serve humbly, together. Titles and vocations are not what matter, but faithfulness expressed in love. Which is to say, neither my son nor I need to be called a pastor (or a lawyer, for that matter) in order to carry out the purposes of God. Luke’s passion is to serve the “least”—the oppressed and downtrodden, overlooked, and enslaved. And isn’t this the very heart of the Father?

Later this summer Luke and his wife Ali will load dog and assorted necessary possessions for a cross-country road trip from Colorado to NYC. On their way they’ll stop for a few days in Minnesota to celebrate a brother’s wedding, and to savor some time on familiar soil. And then—leaving all familiarity behind—they will set out for the next lap of this grand adventure. And God will go with them. Of this, a mom can be certain. And it is enough.

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