From the age of 24 until I retired as Director of Deerfoot at the age of 65, I enjoyed the fact that God kept me in very challenging situations. When entering seminary, I had no clue how God would use me in His service. I did know this: I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do. — Ephesians 2:10
At the age of 24, as a Yankee in Georgia, I was elected by the seminary student body to head the annual mission’s conference for the high school age young people of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Working with two incredible classmates, the mission’s conference was integrated. The year? 1964. The Selma march was March 1965. The voting rights act was in 1965. God put me in that situation, and we worked In Partnership With God. If God had not been with us, we could have been killed – like for real!!
My last major challenge was Deerfoot Lodge. Between 1982 and 2004, when I retired, camper attendance went from 48 to 160 per session. Contributions from $13,000 to over $300,000 per year. God put me at DL with a job to do. I worked In Partnership With God. Deerfoot Lodge was, and is, God’s place!
I am no longer responsible for any ministry. It is one thing to intellectually know this, but it is quite another to adjust my mindset to “It’s not my job.” I am frequently asked my opinion – but I have no authority. None. It can be very difficult to be in this situation, particularly when seeing great opportunities, or the potential for real problems.
This morning I preached at the Onesquathaw Reformed Church, as I often do when the pastor is unable to do so. I know many of the members, hug some very wonderful people. I have no authority. I do my “job,” and leave.
This is the season of life I am in. Reality. Not a bad reality if I accept it, but it can be hard to accept.
Solomon, thought to be the author of Ecclesiastes, wrote: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” — Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Solomon outlined the realities of life.
Solomon reminds us that we “cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.” — Ecclesiastes 11:5. Because we cannot understand the work of God, it is the more important to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6. I may no longer serve in leadership roles, but God does, and He fills each day with good opportunities, with challenges old and new. My “to do list” just gets longer and longer!
When in school we think “I am too busy.” When beginning a new job: “I am too busy.” Parents of infants and young children and teenagers: too busy. In retirement we think “I am too busy.” Perhaps not! Is God directing our paths?
Regardless of the season, let us live in the “now,” In Partnership With God. Remember God’s words to Joshua which echo off the Dug Mountains during every candle light service: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee wherever you go!” — Joshua 1:9.