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The Rev. James Ellis III The Rev. James Ellis, III

The Rev. James Ellis III is Chaplain of Discipleship at Hope College in Holland, MI.

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Hope College, Holland, MI

The Great I AM

June 17, 2010

Many things have transpired lately in the world and in the United States. Sanctions were issued by the United Nations against Iran. Opening matches began at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. BP's massive oil spill caught everyone by surprise. Lena Horne, Dorothy Height, and Guru (Hip-Hop pioneer of the group Gang Starr) all died. Personally, though, too, a lot has taken place in a relatively short period of time.

I received the Master of Sacred Theology degree. I received word that I am now an uncle, for the first time, to a nephew. I spoke with my sister recently on the phone, and--let me tell ya--although only a few days old, the little guy has a hefty set of lungs.

Sadly, due to the current economic recession, The African American Pulpit, which published one of my sermons last year, is suspending operation.[1] On Flag Day I celebrated thirty-one years of life.

Seasons changed. Unpredictably frigid winter days, seemingly overnight, have been quickly exchanged for long, humid nights full of increased activity. Friends and professional acquaintances have come and gone; some whose exit was lamented while others' welcomes had been long worn-out. Why Did I Get Married Too?, for me and many others I know, was a complete bust. Bad move, Tyler Perry. Bad move, indeed.

In my quest to become a pastor-scholar, having applied to a slew of Ph.D. programs all but one said, essentially, 'thanks, but no thanks' to my candidacy. Nevertheless, after all of the struggle God has shed light on a slightly new manifesto. Surely, everything that glitters isn't gold.

Decisions abound. Uncertainty has asserted its position at every corner. Doubt and frustration are real, constantly arguing like toddlers for my undivided attention. Yet, faith in God's providence is stronger still. Therefore, in this new season--surrounded by a few trusted mentors, faithful friends, and encouraging family members--I am resolved to watching and praying as one who humbly bears witness to God's movement publically and privately.

Giving into fear would be easy and accepted, probably, by many, but Scripture and experience have taught me time and time again that true joy and peace will not be found there. So, earnestly pursuing sensitivity to the Spirit's direction is my aim, forever "leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms" of the One who is able to keep me faultless and blameless. (Colossians 1:19-23)

Just as the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord's provocative inquiry, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?", my response is, "I, Here am I; send me." (Isaiah 6:8) I enjoy lifting weights and playing basketball by myself in the wee hours of the morning. It helps me process, even if temporarily, and detach from the complex hurriedness of life. Afterwards I sometimes write down my thoughts. The following is my most recent reflection:

I just got back from shooting hoops with I AM. The crossover was wicked, as effortless as the above the rim (way above the rim) elevation. No doubt, kid's play for I AM. Still, though, the convo was unparalleled, so it was time well spent. I AM was kicking science, as usual: "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14)"

The devil is a liar. I am not a human doing. I am a human being. And, I shall forever...

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.


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