An incident has happened this summer that has made me sit up and take notice. It happened around June. I hope this will make you stop and think as well.
I attend the United Methodist Church. In our church the Cabinet appoints and moves clergy from one church to another. When June comes around you are either nervous about losing your Pastor or hoping your Pastor will move on. In this instance we were nervous although there was no reason to be. It was soon announced our Pastor would return to our church at least for another year. I remember the Sunday she announced she was returning. Her eyes were beaming and she had a great big smile on her face. She was excited about serving our congregation for another year. We were all excited she was returning. Life was good for all. When life is perfect you can almost bet there is a curve in the road.
A few days later or a few weeks, my memory is not all it should be. Our Pastor went off to what we call Annual Conference. There are Pastor Meetings and church business to discuss along with Worship Services. I have never had the privilege to attend one. I’ve heard some say to me you aren’t missing much and others have told me I am missing out on a lot. You can decide for yourself. During the annual conference in which all of the Pastors are expected to attend our beloved Pastor became ill. It just so happened the conference was in the town her long time doctor was in. Immediately he suggested she leave his office and go straight to the hospital. She was in the hospital for several days. After annual conference her and her family was headed to the coast for a family vacation. Some of the family headed to the coast before she was able to go. After leaving the hospital in a not so good condition she was told she needed rest…lots of it.
After vacation we were all certain she would return to the pulpit and resume her duties. It was announced she had not significantly improved and she would need more time. I began to worry a little, but was assured she’d be back. In my absence one Sunday she announced the doctor had strongly urged her to consider retiring to take care of her health and not cause any further harm. Healthy at any age is important and she knew this time was no exception so she had decided she’d better retire and listen to the doctors who often seem to know best.
This Pastor went from one Sunday being on top of a mountain praising God for being able to serve Him and serve our loving congregation to being at the lowest point of her life and having to retire from something she loved to do. One minute things are great and the next your life is falling apart.
This really hit. I am not a young person and I realize there are several older folks still living, but to hear and watch the changes in her life made me sit up and take notice. I was soon reminded of James 4:14, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” I don’t often think about life changes or health problems or even what is around the bend. I just live my life. I suddenly realized what happened to our Pastor can happen to me or anyone of us.
First, I am reminded I can’t make concrete plans for tomorrow. If I do make plans they need to be flexible and not set in stone. God has given me today; I am not promised tomorrow. I can’t put off something today and think I can do it tomorrow, because I just may not. I can’t put off having a deeper relationship with God, or even having a relationship with God until I am an old person. I may not be given the opportunity. I have heard so many say, “Oh, I’ll get around to it one of these days. I’m not in a hurry.” One of these days is today.
I was reminded how quick life passes us by. I can barely recall my childhood, some of my youth is but a small memory and raising my precious daughters went by way too fast. I am reminded by this to stop and slow down and enjoy life. I am reminded to live in the present and not worry about what will happen next.
I know our Pastor who is a very saintly woman will be fine. God is in the midst of her life and he has something in store for this woman. She has put her trust in God and she knows things will work out according to plan. I have learned from her to put my complete trust in God and not worry about what lies ahead. If God is abundantly living in me things will work out.
We all want our journey to be straight and narrow. We don’t want detours, we don’t want a closed highway and we don’t always want crossroads. Just give me a plain shot to where I want to go. God is not like that. He challenges us with changes in our lives both seen and unseen. I once saw a sign that says you can’t spell challenge without change being in there. Our lives are full of challenges and changes. Some challenges and changes we can prepare for others not so much.
When we do have those challenges and changes that are unforeseen we have a choice to make. We can make them with a proper attitude or we can grumble. We can trust God in all ways at all times or we can go our separate ways with him and end up lost on the journey.
In her last sermon she ended using this scripture, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9
We don’t know what tomorrow or the next day holds. We can be frantic and worry about that fact or we can do as the scripture tells us and not be anxious about anything. I can rejoice when things don’t go my way or I can be miserable and make those around me miserable as well.
The Pastor’s circumstance has taught me to sit up and take notice and to do those things I need to do today. When God calls me to do something I need to do it instead of putting it off tomorrow. I need to enjoy life and not sweat the small stuff. Life is going by much too fast not to enjoy it.
While Pastor Kay was with us I feel I have grown along with all those Pastors I have had in the past and if I want to honor them then I will put into practice what I have learned and received from them. My life may be a mist but I am going to make the most of it.
Are you putting something off today, a relationship, an apology, a phone call or visit thinking that you have your many tomorrows to do it? Don’t delay to it today.
Dear God: I pray for all those who are dealing with health issues and major changes in their lives. You have reminded us life is but a mist and we need to make the most of every day. We aren’t promised tomorrow, but we have today. When we are called by you let us and not put it off. Thank you for all the teachings my Pastors have taught me. Help me to take what each one has given and apply them to my life so I can live more fully in you. Amen