Cornerstone

“God called me, a sinner, to this ministry. What in the world is going on?”

If I was such a good driver that I never committed a moving violation, and then one day I ran a red light and was stopped by an officer, would I be guilty of breaking the law and deserving a citation? Would all of my lawful driving excuse my one violation? I think you know the answer.

Then what about that one apple I stole when I was 7 years old? Or the anger that led me to curse someone who had wronged me—to curse him in the name of the Lord I have now come to love and follow? Not to mention the countless times I put myself ahead of others. I don’t know what you think reading this but I know I don’t deserve any mercy. None at all.

Now, I am one of the pastors at Cornerstone. God called me, a sinner, to this ministry. What in the world is going on?

Grace!

My father left our family when I was about 5 years old. If I was important enough to him he wouldn’t have left. I failed the 2nd grade (can you believe that!). A girlfriend once told me she couldn’t see me anymore—she was crazy about my best friend. My first attempt to start a business was a dismal failure. I’ve left out a few things.

So, who am I? What value do I have? Why would anyone love me?

Grace!

I woke up one morning and my new bride was lying beside me.

Grace!

I woke up this morning and my same bride of more than 60 years was lying beside me.

Grace!

No, I can’t explain it. But for some reason God called me. I have no idea why.

But this I do know with all of my heart: Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!


Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a great German theologian. Imprisoned by the Nazis in 1943, he spent the next year and a half in a cell, until he was executed for his opposition to Adolf Hitler, only a month before the war in Europe ended. He wrote this poem while in prison:

Who Am I?

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equally, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were
Compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectation of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who Am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

This was enough for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Is it enough for you and me?

Bill Castenholz

Bill is a member of Cornerstone and serves the church as a non-vocational elder.

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