December 17, 2017

Advent 2017

"Surprised by Grace"

Two weeks after the twentieth anniversary of my tenure as a Virginia Baptist campus minister, with an upcoming divorce, I wondered what my future held. I had been asked for my resignation. I had spent years training to improve my skills as a minister, yet was told by a prominent South Carolina Baptist minister that I had no chance of serving a church in that part of the country. Much to my surprise a church asked me to become their full-time interim minister before my resignation became effective. I served there for nearly two years, discovering that my gifts for ministry were effective in a local church.

At the conclusion of that pastorate I was again without a job and had two children in college to support. A deacon in the church I had served provided me a job as a laborer in a plumbing and electrical contracting business. My résumé was seemingly being ignored by churches searching for a pastor. One day in December, while spread out on the icy ground under a house where I was installing a sewer line, I prayed asking God if this really was the future intended for me. An insight began to emerge letting me see how much I had learned from working men. They had been generous in sharing what they thought of churches and preachers. (It wasn't flattering!) They had let me understand a bit about how shallow many of their experiences in family life had become. Two months later I received an invitation to explore a position as pastor of a church on the Chesapeake Bay peninsula of the Eastern Shore.

My tenure as the pastor of the Drummondtown Baptist Church in the village of Accomac, Viginia, was nearly twelve years long. One goal I held was to be the only pastor school-aged children would know in their growing into faith and following Christ. The church affirmed my gifts in teaching and in pastoral care, but the greatest joy of all has been my continued connection with many of those "children" who now are young adults with children of their own. Henry Blackaby suggests the wisdom in placing oneself in the path of what our Creator is already doing. I will forever have a sense of gladness that I was able to see the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of that small congregation.

-- Charlie Benton

Share This Page

Upcoming Events