We’ve recently experienced a heart-rending situation in church: Our Associate Pastor, who struggles with M.S, has recently bottomed out because of the disease. The flare-ups that come with his M.S. began in May after a number of years of glorious remission, but from that point on they’ve begun to pile up—running closer together and becoming more punishing over time. Recently he had to pull the plug on ministry and go on a two month sick leave.

My emotions are all over the map. First of all, my heart aches for my suffering brother. It hurts to see him like this. I’ll miss him in the office. I’ll miss his passionate and effective service. I don’t like this.

Second though, I’m a little scared. Slumped onto the table a minute ago, I caught a glimpse of my reflection on the black screen of my Macbook. I see fear dancing there in my eyes. Yes, we’re all praying together for healing or at the very least another remission and a January re-entry. But the gut-honest truth is, we don’t know what the future holds for him—and, by extension, for us. For me. His job has to get done, and the lion’s share of that portfolio must land in my lap. I’ll be delegating what’s humanly possible to delegate, but the fact remains, the buck stops with me as the Lead Pastor.

Third, though, I confess I’m also kind of excited. This is too much for me. I can clearly see the edge where Brad stops and God must begin, either through others or through miraculous intervention. I’m anticipating a renewed sense of urgency and blatantly heroic servanthood amongst our volunteers. I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up, who steps forward, and how they’ll shine. I’m relishing the moments where I realize God has taken our grubby little loaves and fish and fed a multitude.

And in the end, reality is slowly dawning on me, wafting through my soul like a distant melody slowly coming home. This isn’t an obstacle, not a crisis, not a setback. It’s an opportunity. A defining moment, the kind that can’t be manufactured or reproduced. The kind that create history, the sort that claw up true passion from the dredges of shell-shocked trenches and forge vision able to storm beaches and escape the sleepy clutches of deathly ruts and petty habits.

No, I’m not waxing poetic about an ugly truth. I would not have chosen this. But I welcome the path just the same.

Jesus, lead us on.