Yesterday in church, our pastor asked for feedback from the congregation on the text we were studying for the morning. As usual there were observations stated from all around the room. What stood out to me was the number of seasoned men and women we have worshiping with us in our community. Some of the answers in the room yesterday came from two former pastors and one man who has served as a deacon or elder in three different churches. It caused me to look around and spot women and men who have given decades of themselves to serve the body of Christ and build up the church.
One couple who gave years to their community and after enduring some difficult, life changing experiences have come here to help others find freedom from the bonds of sin, liberty from shame and the hope and restoration Jesus offers.
Another couple who have served for years pastoring churches and sharing the story of Christ on the streets have come to our church and are the greatest encouragers to those of us are just starting out.
A couple who have kept the door of their home open for 35 years to the lonely and downcast while serving in youth ministry, marriage ministry and as an elder continue to influence a generation of people starting families.
A widow who gives 4 out 7 days of her week to teach Bible study and discipleship to women in her home. Rarely does she turn down a request to invite yourself over for tea.
A 92-year-old woman who started the church before most of us were even born comes each Sunday with a twinkle in her eye, knowing the possibilities of what God can do in the 90 minutes His people have gathered together.
The pastor on our staff who led a church for years and has come to support our leader bringing years of experience and tells us plainly when we’re making something out of nothing and nothing out of something.
The couple who invited our church to join their congregation when they were getting too weary to lead it on their own. They contend for the power of prayer and continue to remind us there is more at stake on our knees than any place else.
Not only do they encourage, but they correct us gently. They have insight that comes from longevity that I do not have. They have stories that come from seeing other stories pan out that I do not have. By now, they have a much better idea of what really matters and what quickly fades. They have peace that comes from experiencing the kind of struggles and suffering I may never see simply because of the time and place I was born into.
I’m thankful because their wisdom, experience and maturity brings stability to our community. It brings peace to my heart, knowing these trust worthy saints would choose to serve in our community. They serve as reminders that our church is a sanctuary where God is stirring and inviting us to participate.
I look at them and see where I want to be 30 years from now. Side by side with my husband encouraging another generation to relentlessly pursue God, uphold the authority of Scripture, build the Church and keep eternity in mind.
“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in him.” ~ Psalm 92:12-15