Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

The lesson of nine years

by Liz Arakelian

August 22, 2013

Aug. 15 marked the nine-year anniversary of my ordination and entrance into full time pastoral ministry.

Years ago, on Aug. 16, when I stepped off the plane in Detroit to start my new life at a new church, in a new place where I didn’t know anyone, I was sure of one thing — God and I were going to do great things! We (God and I) were going to make people see the way it should be.

As a “young,” single, female pastor, I was ready to take on the world and change it for Christ and no one could stop me!

A lot has changed over the past nine years. I am getting farther and farther away from the ‘younger’ category.

I am now married to a wonderful godly man and have a beautiful daughter. I have gone through lots of wonderful and painful church meetings. I have changed denominations and been a part of a new church journey with Living Hope. I have buried and wept with friends and family. I have celebrated at baptisms and weddings. I have realized that by myself, I am not doing anything great or taking on anything, let alone the world.

Through tears, laughter and some of the hardest years of my life I have come to realize I can’t actually do much of anything. I can’t make a couple stay faithful in their marriage no matter how much counseling I do. I can’t make a committee do what I think they should no matter how many great arguments I bring. I can’t make someone come to Christ just because I walk them through the Roman Road.

One of the hardest lessons of the past nine years has been is that I can’t do any of those things.

Only God can.

Only God can save a marriage, encourage committees to follow His call and bring someone to Him. Over the years my prayer has changed. It is no longer telling God we are going to do great things, but asking God what great things he is already doing and how I can be a part of it.

It is daily asking God how he can use me to accomplish great things for him. It is submitting to God’s will, God’s plan and God’s direction and trusting God’s plan is always right. Without God I can do nothing; with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Arakelian serves Living Hope Evangelical Church, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church. For more information, visit