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Reflections Of 2008

The year of our Lord, 2008 is almost gone. In 23 more days it will be history and a new year will take over. For some reason, this year has been different than the other 21 I’ve watched go by. Perhaps I’ve become more observant or perhaps things have become more obvious. Anyway, I thought I would share with you what I see.

I have stood in wonder lately as I stood before you. I stand in pride, not in myself, but in you. But even more than that, in God who has affected a change in you. I’ve watched young boys and girls grow into responsible adults. I’ve watched new couples deepen their relationship with God and with their church family. I’ve watched older people, whom most preachers just check off as a loss, embrace deeper truths from the Scripture and see the effect spill over into their own lives and then into the lives of others. I watch you. It is as if you know where you are going and are in a hurry to get there.

I’ve seen inner personal relationships strengthen and the bond between one another become bold and stronger. I’ve seen new families join in the fellowship with joy and thanksgiving, taking a special interest in new relationships. I’ve heard the echos of deeper concepts and ideas flow freely in your discussions and comments, enough to know that you are grasping something strong and healthy in your hearts.

I’ve watched a transition that has become openly apparent as you have become intent on taking care of those around you. I’ve watched you take on the responsibility of the sick and the wounded in heart instead of sitting back and depending on the elders or the preacher or a scant few to assume the role of helper. I’ve seen the deep concern in your eyes and the warmth in your hearts when something was announced to you, especially concerning one of our own.

I’ve watched you touch more with a softer and more tender touch, as if you were a loving mother or father to those around you. I’ve watched you fall in love with the children in the congregation, my grandchildren and all of the others, as if they were your very own. I’ve watched you treat others with more respect and devotion, as if Christ were coming through your finger tips or rolling gracefully off your tongue.

I’ve watched God work in you, changing you into something that would scare the living daylights out of most churches, even if they longed to be the very same way. You have crossed the line! You have crossed the line that separates the cold from the warm, the uncaring from the caring and the unloving from the loving.

I’ve seen a lot of my work shift over to you. I did not “put” it on you, you “took” it from me… and that is wonderful. Now there seems to be an army of people interested in keeping the saved saved! Now there seems to be a larger resource among us to encourage and instruct, holding gently, but firmly to one another, snatching one another from the powerful grip of Satan.

I’ve watched you work as gentle leaders, as a shepherd, guiding and assisting, protecting and understanding the daily issues of others without complaint and without judgement. I am awed by what God is doing with you.

I can’t remember the last time I heard bickering and backbiting in this church. And, it is not because everything is perfect, for it is far from it. But, it is because more of us have seen and understood that we all have flaws, many flaws, and it is a little hard to judge others harshly when we, too, could be in line for the next judgement. God is working on us.

I’ve watched you, instead of sitting back and resting in a “step ahead,” raise your level of responsibility on your own and accept the newer and greater challenges before you. I’ve watched you move into a more healthy state of heart, realizing that you can know who you are and what your purpose here is about. And, to tell you the truth, I am very proud of you.

Do I think we have arrived? No way! But, I do think we are on a journey toward something that is more firm and abiding. Do I think there is room for improvement? I certainly do! And to tell you what I really think, I think you might get there ahead of me… and I will not be jealous!

I’ve watched many of you strive to rise above your teachers. I suppose if there were any one single compliment that a teacher could receive is that his students would rise above him. What a testimony! As a teacher, it would be wonderful to leave this world with your students out in front of you.

I feel no arrogance in watching these things. I feel warm, loved and appreciated. But, more than that, I am convinced that God’s ways work and man’s ways do not. For way too long we have tried to operate on our own steam and our boat has been sinking. The awesome power of God is being released in our lives and for that we should be truly grateful. And, there is a principle that must not be overlooked. The more you do with what you have, the more He will give you.

I am looking forward to 2009. I am looking forward to watching things change shape and fit more perfectly into God’s idea of how they should be. I want to see Him every time I look into the eyes of any individual in our assemblies. And to put it in the words of some men of old, “Sirs, We Would See Jesus!”

I’m smiling now!