This morning I read a blog by Clayton King who heads up Crossroads Worldwide that our youth go to each year. As I was reading it, I realized that it was a glimpse into my soul…even at 34, I feel that life is so short and I don’t want to waste it. This post really spoke to me, I hope it does to you as well, or it at least gives you a better idea of who I am.
When I was in middle school, our family carpooled with several other families, but one family really stood out. The dad was a pastor of a church in our community, and he was one of a kind. Old school, Bible quoting, Southern Baptist, and country to the core. He had a jovial and warm personality and was never, that I recall, in a bad mood. He was trained in the classic seminary model, where he moved his family to a seminary town and spent 3-4 years finishing his degree while pastoring small churches, all the while his wife worked 2 jobs just so they did not starve. He was known and loved by all his parishioners and everyone in town.
As the years passed, his congregation began to age, as did he. His health began to fail, largely due to the stresses of his job. The older people felt like the church was slipping away from them; too much change, too many new people, and a pastor that was not “holding things together.” They gave him grief for every little innovation he suggested, encouraged him to stop visiting new people in the community and spend more time taking care of the core group of church members. When he hesitated to give in to all the demands of the older members, the deacons reminded him that he had a secure job with benefits and that if he rocked the boat, he would find himself looking for a new church (and how many churches would want to hire a pastor in his late 50s with high blood pressure, hypertension, and high cholesterol)? He understood their point, and he decided to GO ALONG TO GET ALONG.
A few years ago I was in the hospital visiting a family member when I walked past a room and heard a familiar voice. It was this same pastor, that I had known as a child, whom I dearly loved and respected. It had been years since I had preached for him, but his voice was unmistakable. I entered the room and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. We visited for about 10 minutes until I could tell he was worn out. The heart surgery had taken a toll on him, so after I prayed for him, I was ready to leave.
He grabbed my hand and began to weep. “Are you still preaching the gospel, Clayton?” I responded that I was and intended to until I died. Then he choked out these words.
“Don’t you ever stop, and don’t you ever let anyone stop you. I let a church full of lazy christians steal my passion away from me. They did not want to change, they wouldn’t reach out to anyone, and they did not care about people dying without Jesus. All they cared about was making church easy and convenient. I let them scare me into doing what they wanted. And I slowly died. I would give anything to be your age again, Clayton. I would do it differently and I would obey God no matter what people said. Trust me son, you don’t want to end up like me, dying in hospital with regrets hanging over your head. Once you let anybody other than Jesus tell you what to do, you begin to die.”