A few years ago, after my uncle passed away, I was sitting around with my extended family going through old family photos when we found the one below. It looked just like me! when I posted it to social media, one of my closest friends even commented, “O that freaks me out. I seriously thought you had your photo taken at one of those old western style places.” It seems there was consensus that this family member is sitting on the front porch of my great grandmother’s farm house and was probably my great aunt. There was argument about which great aunt is pictured but it was agreed she appears to be holding a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
I’m not freaked out by the picture, in fact I find great comfort. Knowing my roots helps me to understand myself better. It helps me to feel part of something larger. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make the most of my gifts, the most of my life. Sometimes, that pressure to “not settle for less” keeps from enjoying the moment or making the most and the best of situations right here and now. I like thinking that some distant relative will be looking at a picture of me in the future, and even if they don’t know my name, know they are somehow linked to me.
In ministry we often feel like we have to be the newest, the biggest, the best. Churches are looking for the next big fix. We are looking for the inspirational leader with the suave speak and all of the answers. I used to work for an organization whose vision was to “become the strongest force in the history of this Convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a difference in our world, and we do need to do things differently but we cannot lose site of where we have come from. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
When we begin thinking that the future of the gospel rests fully on our shoulders, that we are going to save the church, that we are going to save Christianity, we put ourselves in the God’s position. I literally just had to say to myself in the kitchen last night, you cannot think that you can fix the decline of the church when it has taken over a thousand years to get us where we are today.
No matter our calling, we walk the same path with the same purpose as our ancestors did. We have to figure out faithfully how to live humbly, love mercy and walk justly with our God today. We have to in one hand realize how small we are in the grand scheme of the vast gospel of Jesus but on the other hand realize that we are so valuable that God knows how many hairs on our head, that we have been created for just such a time as this.
Live humbly, love mercy and walk justly with our God.