By Pastor David Klappenbach, First Lutheran Church, Rock Port

This will be my final contribution for “On The Spiritual Side.” I have accepted a call to serve Bethany Lutheran Church in Laurens, Iowa. That call will begin on March 1, 2019. It has been a joy making these contributions to the Atchison County Mail. I pray that what I have written has been helpful, inspiring and provided you with faithful insight.

I was asked by someone to describe my faith journey. My answer was kind of brief. In fact my answer took the form of a prayer. It is the prayer that is often prayed following the sermon in the Morning and Evening Prayer service in the Lutheran Book of Worship, pages 137, 153. “Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love is supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

From the very first day I entered into candidacy for the office of ordained ministry in the Lutheran Church, I was counseled by a wise pastor to be ready for surprises along the way. He said that I would be serving in places that I never would have thought about. In other words, “You are not going to the places you think you are going.” “Be open to Holy Spirit wherever He may be leading.” As it has turned out He was right. You see, my plan has been to be a pastor in North Carolina or South Carolina. Obviously it has not turned out that way. My pastoral ministry started in Malinta, Ohio, not a church in North Carolina; then to Vickery, Ohio, again not to North Carolina; then to Rock Port, Missouri, not North Carolina. However, I must say that all these places have been gracious surprises. Wherever God has led there have been blessing people who love the Lord and are committed disciples.

I can say the same for Rock Port over these past four plus years. I have been impressed by the collegiality of the Rock Port Ministerial pastors and how the churches work together to bring the gospel to this community. Rock Port has given me an opportunity to serve in the wider community through Rotary and the Senior Board. I will cherish the relationships that have developed in the community. I see Christ present in the work that is being carried out through the churches and community organizations.

About a year ago my family and began to go into prayer on whether we should think about returning to North Carolina to be closer to family. So I made myself available for call and even had some conversations with churches in South Carolina. But that was about as far as it went. Then we were directed to take a look at a church in Iowa. We prayed about it and to make a long story short a “Letter of Call” was issued and accepted. Again God surprised us. While there will be much that will be missed in Rock Port, we go confident that this is where God is leading us, guiding us, and His love supporting us.

What I have learned in this faith journey is that God’s plans are not always my plans. That living the faith life is not always seeing what the immediate future will look like, though we believers confident in God’s promises in Christ know that Heaven and eternal life is the final destination. In the meantime, in the everyday living on this earth, living as a Christian is like St. Paul describes it, “We walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Finally beloved reader, keep Christ at the center of your life. The crucified and risen Christ is indeed present and leading you and supporting you with His love on the paths untrodden that are before you and perils unknown. Keep the faith.

Joyfully walking In Christ, Pastor David Klappenbach