Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"The First Stand"

     The fading inscription from long ago reminds me of seemingly another lifetime, and of a now ancient commitment of awareness and faith.

    "Frances and Marie are my first ministry" (1/11/82).

    I don't know how this thought originally occurred to me.  It seemed important enough, however, to write the words in the flyleaf of the Bible I used in those days.  It still seems important more than three decades later, and includes our son and youngest daughter  - Noah and Emmie - who through the years came along to join our family.  Indeed, if I could return to January 11, 1982, I would pen the same inscription.  Then, I would seek to far more faithfully implement in practice the principle to which I believe every preacher with a family should commit himself.

    As implied, I have often failed to remember and emphasize my "first ministry."  It's easy to miss the trees for the forest, the first stand of which God plants in the home.  All these years later, I ponder and marvel at my wife and children for the people they have become (and continue to become).  God has been amazingly gracious, merciful, and kind to our family in countless ways.  He has overcome the shortcomings of the patriarch in so many bestowals of undeserved blessing.  The aforementioned principle remains alive in my heart, and the Lord patiently continues to work out the practice thereof in longsuffering faithfulness.  As I write these very words, I feel yet again the determination to submit myself to our Heavenly Father for the grace that will enable me to be a more faithful husband and father (and now, grandfather).

    Our first responsibilities, regardless of calling and vocation, always lie close at hand.  Few more challenging truths present themselves to us, along with few greater opportunities for the blessing of ministry to others.  Perhaps the old hymn expresses it best, "Brighten the corner where you are."  Yes, we first shine our light to those nearby, with whom we live our lives.  Upon this basis, we then go forth to other venues in a greater illumination because we remembered the blessed and solemn responsibility to glimmer brightly amid the trees of the first stand.

"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
(Matthew 25:21)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "O LORD, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things; Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth."
(Isaiah 25:1)

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