From time to time, I wondered what I would say to the people in the final service of my ministry. This is what I did say.
As I began to think about this service, my thoughts turned to the the opening words of Psalm 115, “Not to us, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth.”
As I read through this Psalm, some of the other verses jumped out at me.
“Trust in the Lord” (verse 10).
“The Lord remembers us and will bless us” (verse 12).
“May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (verse 15).
“We will praise the Lord, both now and forever. Hallelujah” (verse 18).
As I look back over the way in which the Lord has led me down through the years, I join, with the Psalmist, in saying, “Hallelujah.” I look at Jesus, and I say, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”
My journey of faith has been a journey with the Scriptures. It’s been a journey of learning what the Bible teaches. It’s been a journey of sharing God’s Word with many people. There are people I’ve forgotten, but none of these people are forgotten by the Lord. They are remembered by him.
The great turning-point in my life came when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was when my life took a decisive step in the direction of the ministry.
What are we to say about my ministry? What should every servant of the Lord say about their ministry? “Not to us, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth” (Psalm 115:1).
The message is love, but it is much more than human love. It’s the love of God.
From early on in my Christian life, John 3:16 was going to be an important verse for me: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” For many years, I have begun funeral services with these words. They are words of love, and they are words of life. They are words of eternal love, and they are words of eternal life.
Early on in my life of faith, I did a personal Bible study on Philippians 2:5-11. This was a precious time of being blessed by the Lord. The lesson that I learned could be summed up in the words of Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, not to us, but to your name be glory.” That time of feeding on God’s Word led me to sing to the Lord, “Hallelujah” (Psalm 115:18). This was a time when I was given a glimpse of what lay ahead of me: feeding on the Word of God so that I could feed others with the Word of God.
As I look back over the years of my life, I say, “To God be the glory! Great things he has done.” There have been hard times as well as happy times. There have been downs as well as ups. There have been times of testing as well as times of blessing. What are we to say about all of these times? God has been there, all along the way he has led me. I look back and say, “Thank you, Lord, for your faithful love.”
Down through the years, I have wondered, “What will I say to the people?” Then, I would remember that this is not the first question that I needed to ask. My mind would go back to the first question: “What, Lord, are you saying to me?” This is where the ministry of God’s Word comes from. It does not begin when we ask the question, “What will I say to the people?” It begins when we say to the Lord, “What, Lord, are you saying to me?”
Before we can pass on the Word of the Lord to others, we must receive the Word of the Lord from the Lord. When we begin with the question, “What am I to say to the people?”, we can, very easily, descend to the level of being an entertainer. When we keep before us, “What, Lord, are you saying to me?”, we will be kept on the higher level of being a preacher of the gospel and a teacher of God’s Word.
When Paul was writing to the Christians at Ephesus, he spoke about the great privilege of “preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). The riches of Christ are unsearchable. When we start thinking that we have said all that we have to say, God keeps on showing us that there is, still, more to be said. During the course of my ministry, I have forgotten a lot more than I can still remember. Do I need to remember all that I said forty, thirty, twenty or ten years ago? No! I don’t. That was then. This is now. What matters is what God is saying to us, here and now. Yesterday has gone. Now, we’re pressing on towards the future.
What are we to say about the past? We still have our memories from the past. We’re to learn from the past, but we’re not to live in the past. We cannot go back to the past. We must move on into the future. We cannot say, “The future is going to be this” or “The future is going to be that.” For all of us, the future is the great unknown. Is it all unknown? Is this all that we can say about the future? Let”s return to Psalm 115:12, “The Lord remembers us and will bless us.” Whatever the future may hold for us, let us not forget this, “The Lord remembers us and he will bless us.” From Psalm 115, the message is clear, “Trust in the Lord” (verse 10). Let us pray for one another, “May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (verse 15).
Every step we take in our journey towards the future is a step into the unknown. We don’t know where our journey will take us, but there is something else we must learn to say. It is this: God is with us. Never forget this: God is with us. Never think that we’ve got it all figured out. There are, always, surprises along the way, but God is with us, and that’s all we need to know.
When we wonder about the future, let us remember our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Before his resurrection, there was his crucifixion. When Jesus was dying on the cross, who would have thought that, soon, he would be raised from the dead. As we think about the future, let us think about Jesus. Let us remember that Jesus Christ is Lord. He was crowned with thorns. Now, he is crowned with glory. When we look at Jesus, crucified for us and raised from the dead for us, can we doubt his love for us?
As I think back over the years of ministry, there are many things that I forget. The memory is not as good as it once was. When there are things that we can’t remember. Let us remember this: the love of Jesus doesn’t depend on our memory. When we forget him, he still remembers us, and he will bless us.,
4 thoughts on “At the end of my ministry: looking back and looking forward”
Thanks, Tides and Tidings, JoyCo, Beholding Him Ministries, Eileen, PjZoe and A O Portal, for liking this post. God bless each of you.
We give thanks to God for your faithful work, empowered by Him. I don’t believe that you are finished yet, though! I’m sure you will never pass up a chance to commend Jesus!
Thank you Charlie. I have prayed for you over the years and I have seen how God has blessed your ministry as you have studied to bring the Word of God to the hearts and minds of your people. I have myself been blessed by your writings and for this I give grateful thanks to the Lord. God bless you greatly in all He has planned for your future service for Him.
Thanks, Moira, for your prayers and your words of appreciation and encouragement. God bless you.