It was early in the fall semester. Ken and I were getting acquainted over lunch. I could tell by his incandescent grin that he was a freshman.
"I'm going to be a pastor," Ken said. "It's going to be cool!"
"What makes you so sure it's going to be cool?"
I tried not to look amused.
He seemed shocked by the question. The radiant glow of his smile dimmed momentarily, and he looked as if I had muttered an unexpected indecency. But the grin quickly returned to his face, and he dismissed my question with a shake of his head.
"I don't know," he said. "But it's going to be cool!"
Several years later, I had lunch with Ken again. He was a senior by then, and his enthusiasm had dampened. He had not quite reached the low ebb that Job's wife did. That is to say, he was not ready to curse God and die. But he did seem genuinely disappointed—with his college experience, his church, and, I think, with God.
As I listened to him talk, it was my turn to be disturbed. I thought back to our first lunch together and wondered what had soured his disposition. He did not want to talk about it. He muttered something vague and recriminating about the church. He stared darkly at his plate, and I tried to lighten the mood with small talk and encouragement. But it was no use. Try as I might, I could not resuscitate the rosy-cheeked freshman. I ate quickly and wished him the best. A few weeks later, I watched him walk across the platform and receive his diploma, wondering whether his disposition would eventually improve.
It might not. Those who serve Christ are as prone to disappointment as anyone else. If the Gospels are any indication, we might even say that disappointment is a certainty. Read the Gospels with all their sharp edges intact. What are they ...