Every time I interact with colleagues in ministry, I’m convinced that I receive more than I give. At a recent pastors’ conference, I met the distinguished Bible scholar and writer Frank M. Hasel. Dr. Hasel serves as dean of the theology department at Bogenhofen Seminary in Austria. While we chatted, I was delighted to learn that his first article, written in English more than 20 years ago, was published in Ministry.1 That experience as a young aspiring writer encouraged Dr. Hasel to join God in His work as a theology professor and writer.
This issue of Ministry features the work of another young writer, Daniel Xisto. His article, “Free Will and Choice: A Study of Jeremiah 1:5,” received the grand prize in our most recent Ministerial Student Writing Contest.2 Daniel is a seminary student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.
When I called Daniel to congratulate him, he shared what the renowned radio broadcaster, the late Paul Harvey, would refer to as “the rest of the story.” Here is a brief excerpt from Daniel’s testimony: “My wife, Andrea, and I have been on quite the journey here at the seminary. We moved to Michigan as we saw the pillar of cloud lead, leaving our professional careers and family in New York. Since moving here, we have been challenged in many ways. Though the classroom experience has always been one of sheer joy, finances and other trials have tested our faith. Additionally, I was sometimes plagued with thoughts of inadequacy. I feared that I had mistakenly uprooted our family, leaving our secure lives behind. But I am happy to testify that we have had a personal experience with Yahweh Yireh: the Lord will provide! We have experienced miracle after miracle more than space allows—that have driven us closer to God and to each other. This recognition from Ministry is just one more evidence that the Lord has His fingers on the pulse of my life. He sees me.”
We are truly blessed when we come to the realization that God sees us and is at work for and in us. But our responsibilities do not end with the awareness of His presence and a complete surrender to God and His expressed will for our lives. God has given each one of us a voice to “proclaim the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).3 While God is Sovereign, He also offers us the free choice to join Him in His work.
In the midst of the challenges of life and ministry, He assures us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11–13). He also appeals to us to live and minister in total dependence on Him: “ ‘ “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” ’ ” (Jer. 33:3).
When we move by faith beyond our internal insecurities and external adversities, we will see God work in life-changing, world-transforming ways. We will repeat the testimony of Jesus that “‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working’ ” (John 5:17), and we will declare with the prophet Jeremiah, ““Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You”’” (Jer. 32:17).
1 Frank M. Hasel, “The Wrath of God,” Ministry 64, no. 11 (November 1991): 10–12.
2 A complete list of our most recent Ministerial Student Writing Contest winners can be found in the March 2012 issue of Ministry.
3 All Bible quotations are taken from the New King James Version.