I am asking the Lord for at least another thirty years in the pulpit. I don’t deserve to be able to serve the Lord, but for the last thirty years he has regularly given me things I don’t deserve (and not given me some things I do deserve).
With the Lord this morning over coffee, I was thinking. It is a crystal-clear, cool, beautiful morning in the Chicago area just as it was exactly thirty years ago today when my parents dropped me off at Moody Bible Institute to begin my formal preparation for the ministry.
The last three decades have gone by so fast. As I spent time with the Lord this morning I thanked Him over and over again for His mercy – His faithful mercy in my life over the last three decades of ministry. His mercies are new every morning and every decade, and he has put many merciful people in my path as agents of his grace to me and to those I love.
How kind and good He has been to us. I am so undeserving, but He has allowed me to serve Him in some wonderful places. I have heralded the gospel to many, many precious people. In spite of my own weakness, flesh, and failures He has still allowed me to serve Him. I will never get over that as long as I live.
This morning I asked the Lord to give me at least another thirty years in the pulpit. I asked the Lord to allow this day to be the halfway point in my ministry. I want to be as useful as an old farm truck for the Lord. When I was young I was tempted to think of myself as a red sports car. I was tempted to want to turn heads and make a big splash. But over the years by aspirations have changed. I want to be steady, and faithful, and useful for the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I still like to believe my most significant contribution for Christ is going to be in the next thirty years. I have never been more excited or more convinced of the power of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don’t want to just make a loud noise and then be forgotten. I don’t just want to turn heads, I want a place in someone’s heart. I don’t want envoke envy at all. I just want to be useful for a good long time. I don’t want my value to depend on the latest fickle fashion in automobile design. I want to be useful not just noticeable. I want to be in demand for many, many years. I don’t want to make a huge splash and then disappear.
As I see it, seeing myself like a red sports car is yielding to the temptation to personal ambition in the ministry – career orientation. I don’t want to fall into that trap. I want to be useful for the Kingdom and the Church, and the Gospel, and the cause of Christ on earth, until he comes back – useful and faithful as an old truck around the farm.
August 31, 2007