West with “St. Ratus”
Tuesday I had two choices. I had been invited to a pastor’s meeting where a number of my friends would be in attendance. Most of them would be younger pastors. There is a hopeful movement among young pastors toward a more robust theology. It’s great fun to be around these guys. The preaching and the fellowship and the singing can make your soul soar up to God. I put it on my calendar.
Later I heard that there would be another pastor’s meeting on the same day in early May. This would be a small meeting at a small white clapboard church on a little knoll south of a the tiny village of Litchfield, Michigan.
I wrestled a little with the decision. Which meeting? The young pastor’s meeting would feature nationally-known speakers and a band. The younger pastor’s meeting would be closer to home. I woke early on Tuesday looking forward to the refreshment of a meeting with other brothers and sisters in ministry.
I aimed the litte white Dodge Stratus I call “Saint Ratus” west out into the country to attend the small gathering in the country church. Refreshments were served with coffee down in the church basement. The people were sweet and kind and encouraging. I wondered if they would have real caffeinated coffee for the “younger” people–they did.
The speaker was a man of 78 years. He and his wife had been in active ministry for over 50 years. He spoke of God’s faithfulness and his supply and help over five decades of ministry. I listened with my Bible open in my lap on an old wooden pew bolted to a wooden floor. During quiet patches in the message the sounds from the trees and fields that surrounded the church wafted in the open windows of the little church. I loved his message and was deeply moved and inspired by God’s faithfulness to him… Of course it was especially powerful to me because the 78-year-old pastor who was in ministry over 50 years has been my dad for over 50 years, too.
Just before lunch was a short business meeting. I excused myself and slipped outside. The trees around the church were symphonic with birdsong. The sun shone on my head. Across from the church acres of rich soil awaited spring planting. Far away on the south border of the field was a line of beautiful trees in the tender green of spring. A gravel road ran along-side the field under an arch of leafy trees. My spirit drank in the quiet and I prayed. Most of all I thanked God for his faithfulness to me and to my family over the decades. And I prayed that God would make me faithful and fruitful for Him until my final breath.
It was a delightful morning. As always, I drove away with a lump of gratefulness in my throat confident that I had made a good decision. (I’ll check on-line for the audio of the “young pastor’s” meeting).
P.S. On the way home I made a quick diversion past a favorite used book store and stumbled across a flawless hard-cover of Sheldon VanAuken’s classic: A Severe Mercy. It was a very, very, good day.