There’s something about pastoring at a 126 year old church that helps me keep things in perspective. When I consider the time God has given me to live on this planet, and then compare it to the age of the church in which I serve, I see the disparity between the two. I doubt I’ll live to be 100 years old; and yet, even if I do the church will have reached 180 years of age.
God began to work at Guthrie, First Southern long before I took my first breath. And, if the Lord Jesus delays His return and continues His grace upon this church, as I believe he will, this church will exist after my promotion to Heaven.
Numbers 20:22-29 tells of the transition from the leadership of Aaron the priest to his son Eleazar. There is no fanfare or big dramatic description of Aaron’s death. Rather, God simply commands Moses to bring Aaron along with Aaron’s son Eleazar up to the top of Mount Hor. There on the top of that mountain Moses strips Aaron of the priestly garments and places them upon Eleazar. No big prayers and with no ceremony Moses and Eleazar come down from the top of the mountain and a new leader takes the helm of the worship at the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
Each time I go into the Family Life Center at the church where I serve, I see in a glass case pictures of pastors who have served before me at First Southern. Some are still alive. As a matter fact, I had the privilege of talking to one a couple of weeks ago. But many of them have already passed on to glory. Certainly all of them have passed on from ministry at the church.
I realize that someday I’ll be in somebody’s distant memory and regulated to a photograph in a picture frame. This is a sobering thought and helps punctuate in my mind the reality that no matter the length of time God gives me to serve, it is but a brief blip on the radar screen of this church’s existence. And no matter how long God gives me to live on this earth, my time is exceedingly short.
So what shall I do with this knowledge? First of all, I will rejoice in the Lord. This perspective helps me realize that the good I might experience in my ministry context pales in comparison to the glory I’ll enjoy in the presence of God for all eternity. And, no matter that pain the may come my way in serving, it too will pale in comparison to the unending glory that awaits me. I am able to serve with joy and greater wisdom because I realize my time here is temporary.
“Dear Lord, grant me a long tenure in service of your people at First Southern. But help me to remember that my time here is short. Grace me with your blessing to the end that I am found faithful – and all to Your glory. Amen.”