Last day of the year. Good day for reflection.
2012 was a good year, but in my 24 years of ministry, it ranks as one of the top 5 toughest ministry years, but also one of the best. It’s tough to wade through the effects of people’s sins on the lives of the innocent. It stinks to look into the tear-filled eyes of people who made no bad decisions except trusting deceptive people. It’s deflating to receive mean-spirited criticism from “Christians” who are more concerned with their own happiness and satisfaction than they are about doing whatever it takes to keep the lost from going to Hell, defending tradition as if it were scripture. And it’s painful to help pick up the pieces of broken hearts due to the results of living in a fallen world. The enemy is real and he loves to cause confusion, pain and destruction. He loves to infuse doubt and division into the hearts and minds of the faithful.
But, it was an awesome year to hear confused, brokenhearted teenagers speak and live out their faith in Jesus in the midst of their lives’ most challenging crisis. It was beautiful to hear the bold prayers of elders over those who were sick, dying or facing life-altering surgeries. It was inspiring to watch families get stronger while walking through devastating loss that would crumble those without Jesus. It was humbling to walk with families who claimed courage while the enemy fired one fear-filled arrow after another straight at them. And it was joyful to watch thousands walk around a new church building that was 3 years in the making, speaking of folks who will be in Heaven who wouldn’t have been without it.
It was a tough ministry year, but it was a fulfilling one as well.
I was reminded of that on Saturday when I met a lady and her friend at our new Richmond Road Campus. This sweet little lady who will be 21 years clean and sober in February, introduced me to her friend who she recently baptized who will be one year clean and sober in March. To hear their stories of redemption, grace, courage, surrender, recovery and perseverance filled my heart with joy and reminded me of why we do what we do as a church and why I love ministry – even in the toughest of years. Our God is good. Jesus is real. And the Church is the vehicle to deliver the hope of the world.
See you later 2012…..welcome 2013.1 Comment »