As I write this Pastor’s Ponderings for our June newsletter, I am going to do something a little unusual and get personal in my thoughts and writings for our newsletter.
The Psalmist in chapter 13, verse six, wrote “I will sing to the Lord because he has been good to me.” June is a special month around our house in that both Reba and I celebrate birthdays. For me, with my birthday at the end of the month, I consider those Psalmist words significant for the many years that I can celebrate that I have lived a blessed lifetime. But I believe each birthday that we get to celebrate is significant and we should praise God for giving us the time he has chosen to give us here on this earth.
At my age now, I can celebrate a list of gifts that God has given me that would fill up this entire newsletter. I am happy, healthy, married to a beautiful woman, I have great children and two fun grandchildren. I have had a number of different careers and educational experiences over the years. For the past 17 years, I have been addressed as pastor and have had an opportunity to serve three churches in the United Methodist denomination. What a blessing these years have been for me. And to get to as many years as I have lived, I do feel blessed. When I contemplate my future, I see no struggles, I only see the happiness the God has given me. Recently, I lost a longtime friend who I have been blessed to share a few years in retirement with here in Pentwater. After losing my friend Paul, I start to wonder what lies ahead for me. What additional things does God have in store for me?
Because of a number of other road markings that I have recognized in recent years, I am reminded of another, Psalm 34:8, God invites us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” It was early in my ministry when I recognized God can deliver us from those things that smother our hope, but God’s blessings require our participation. So, in these past few days I have begun to look back and look at the opportunities God provided for me and when I recognized the opportunity and participated in what God had in store for me, that is when I found my life most fulfilling. Just recently, I had an opportunity to be with twenty-four youths who came to the Lake Michigan United Methodist Camp for a weekend in preparation for their confirmation. I had a small role greeting them when they first arrived at camp, giving them directions, where they needed to go to register, where to roll out their sleeping bags, and to direct them to the dining hall. In the dining hall they received the first blessing of the weekend in a meal designed for them including chicken tenders, french fries, soda, and ice cream shakes. I also got to teach a class about trust and was able to get them to participate in some activities to build trust. Not only did they learn about trusting in God, but they also learned about trusting in each other. A small joy that weekend but one that brings much gladness to my heart.
It is my hope and desire that God will continue to use me for what time I have left at Claybanks United Methodist Church, confirmation retreats, Keryx Ministries, maybe an expanded role at Love In The Name Of Christ or maybe a new and exciting assignment. I will continue to be open to other possible opportunities. I look forward to the continued sharing with those that I meet, and when they ask me what I do in retirement, I get to respond by saying “I am blessed to serve our Lord and Savior.”
I dedicate this pondering to my friend Paul, known in Pentwater as the friendly face who was the keeper of the four blocks of “Main Street.”