Yesterday Frances and I began our thirteenth year of conducting services at a local retirement community. This brings to mind thousands of people we have been blessed to meet and know. I am tempted to name some of them, and have previously done so in these devotionals. Today, however, I would rather simply recall a bellwether moment that defines in my mind what our time at the community has meant to us, and an awareness I think every calling in life should involve.
One morning during the first years of conducting the services, I shared with Frances my itinerary for the day. I mentioned several morning responsibilities, and then remembered, "Oh yes, we have to go to Gordon Oaks this afternoon." Immediately a more appropriate thought occurred to me. "Let me rephrase that, honey," I said. "Actually, we get to go to Gordon Oaks this afternoon!"
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3-5).
Frances and I consider our ministry at Gordon Oaks a responsibility. We conduct four services a week there, and believe we should show up on time with hearts and minds prepared to fulfill our God-called duties. However, the dominant sensibility and feeling in our hearts involves the awareness of how privileged we are to be given such an opportunity. Our Lord has met us through the hearts, lives, and faces of so many of His people at Gordon Oaks. He has blessed us over and over and over again, to the degree that we hope to minister to people when we go there. We know, however, that the people of Gordon Oaks will minister to us. We will see Christ in people who seek and trust Him in challenging situations, and who come to our services as the expression of their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. In countless services, I have looked out at congregations of people, many in wheelchairs, and have been keenly aware of the overwhelming truth of my complete unworthiness to be in the presence of hearts so much more faithful, devoted, and trusting than my own. Oh yes, privilege…
God gave to us a gift twelve years ago, a gift that, as the saying goes, keeps on giving. He gave to us Himself, as revealed through so many of His trusting sons and daughters in Christ. I feel this way about all our ministries. "I get to." I suspect that if such a sensibility is not resident within our hearts and minds regarding the callings of life, well, they may not be callings. May our Lord lead us all to realize the grace of our responsibilities that transforms duty into privilege…
"I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord!"
Weekly Memory Verse
Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
(II Thessalonians 2:16-17)