26 years ago - so thin!!!
Yesterday marked the completion of 36 years full time for me in the ministry for our wonderful, faithful Savior. I have enjoyed the journey so very much. Please allow me to relish in my lot for a bit.
I really wish there were more to show for the labor, but I will leave that up to the count of the One Who counts when He reveals what is gold, silver and precious stones and what is wood, hay and stubble.
I have to wonder, if I hadn’t answered the call to ministry and set off from Goat Roper, Colorado to Los Angeles back in August of ’78 in my Chevy Nova, what would I have missed out on?
A beautiful and wonderfully gifted wife of who I am unworthy, a wonderful set of children whom I love with all my heart, a fantastic church of “salt of the earth” saints who allow me to be their under shepherd and so very much more.
I think (with a very grateful heart) of the souls that have professed Christ as Savior over these 3 and a half decades, and I got to have some small part in introducing them to the Redeemer.
With great fondness and appreciation, I think of all the wonderful servants of God with whom I have had the high privilege of rubbing shoulders. These are people you could “ride the river with.” Saints, every one of them! I have more friends than any man could ever deserve or hope to enjoy. The fellowship with these people down here serves to heighten my imagination of what Glory will be like when we will talk and reminisce and worship and praise side by side for all of eternity.
Then there are the places, and the things that happened in those places! If it hadn’t been for the ministry, I can’t imagine I would have been at all those youth camps, on those foreign mission fields, in all those churches, hundreds of them, big and small, meeting ten thousands of His saints. I admit to having a great wanderlust. Novel places, new people, different cultures, fresh experiences…these things serve to crank my engine. I will never forget visiting the chapel in Canada made completely of whiskey bottles, kneeling at the base of Mt. Calvary or baptizing a new believer in the world’s largest baptistery, the Pacific. Laying down in the back seat of a taxi under cover of darkness while sneaking through Palestinian strongholds, that is a nerve-wracking, thrilling experience I will always treasure.
Ministry has afforded me the opportunities to travel the moonscapes of West Texas, watch whales from the bow of a ferry in the Sea of Cortez, stand atop the sacred Ute Mountain where whites are forbidden, stare in wonder at the grandeur of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, drink coffee in Bedouin tents, dig a baptistery in the mountainous jungle, wind my way through volcanic coffee plantations, ride out Central American earthquakes, view erupting volcanoes, sing on stage in Branson, walk on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
Still, I have to go back to the people. They are what make the past 36 years so worth the incredible journey. Preachers, mentors, missionaries, church folk, friends, family, colleagues and average Joes who have enriched my life and His ministry beyond measure; these are the champions of my life’s story. Good, godly, gracious and giving. I love those with whom I serve our Lord. I so appreciate those in chaplaincy and who are part of our law enforcement and fire-fighting community for their collegiality. I adore my family who see not only my public persona, but the real me, and yet love and support me so.
But, the greatest Hero of all is the One Who makes it all possible and worthwhile, and He, of course, is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be all glory, honor and praise. He gives reason and rhyme to chaotic lives. He provides purpose to an aimless existence. He chooses the base, the vile, the unable, the dregs, the introvert, the cast off. He makes of them comely instruments of the orchestra which play the symphony of His glory. For 36 years, this clarinet has squeaked and squawked in that holy band, proud to be a small part of something so grand, so eternal.
Thank you, Jesus! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your work and for the grace to make a small difference.