This past week, as part of my pastoral rounds, I visited two men, one in his fifties the other in his eighties. I saw Lynn on Monday and Ron on Wednesday. The first visit was to follow up with a man who had just lost his wife to a six year battle with cancer. Trying to find a new normal Lynn and I spent time recalling the beauty of his wife and the way she lived her life for God and the blessing of others. Lynn is in the process of sorting out what life will be without her. Ron has been in extended care for several months, succumbing to dementia, he is not the same man he once was.
Both are living saints. They are men of deep goodness and fierce prayer and holy mischief. Lynn never misses the opportunity to tell anyone in earshot about the love of God. Once he finds his balance he’ll be back to work in the hospital using his time to touch others with the love of God. Ron, only a few short years ago was an active member of Zion, serving as Head Usher. Ron was always thinking about those around him and how he could make them feel welcomed and blessed. Now he battles with a disease that has baffled mankind for a long time.
This might seem and unusual way to start a blog for youth ministry, but after visiting these two saints I felt challenged to consider my life, ministry, and vision for life. So I will pass along some thoughts I’ve been pondering.
In Romans 12:1-2 (Message) says, “Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God brings the best out of you, develops we-informed maturity in you.”
Here’s the thought: Fix your attention on God and you’ll be changed from the inside out. God’s the one who brings out the best in you. That’s a truth worth pursuing with our whole hearts. God lovingly invites us to pursue our shared calling as a Christian community and our unique vocation as individual disciples. We are all on a common pursuit of loving God, and loving others in Jesus’ name. We do so in slightly different ways - reflected in the variety of personalities and gifts found in the Body of Christ - but more importantly, we call ourselves Christian and mean it from the bottom of our hearts. Our commonality is a beautiful gift to reflect on and is our delightful inheritance. We are set apart and called to be the people of God, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). But even though we all live our lives in a wider community, we also find ourselves in daily pursuit of a life that’s uniquely set apart for God’s distinct purpose - evidenced in our personal rule of life.
Here’s the challenge: Cease the continual striving of a life of nonstop technology, noise, and activity. Stop looking exclusively to other’s ideas of how you are to live as a Christian. Instead, begin to listen to God with an attentive, reflective, and discerning heart. Your journey of personal discovery is sure to be life transforming for you and all whose path you gracefully cross.
So, thank you Lynn and Ron for reminding me that my life is fragile and limited in time, but has tremendous purpose and potential. It is my responsibility to use what has been entrusted me while I can for the glory of God and the blessing of others.
Chris Wood pastors at Zion Fellowship in Canandaigua, NY. He and his wife, Joan, have been involved in ministry for over 35 yrs., and it has been fun. They have three children, two daughter-in-laws and two grandchildren. Their family is amazing!