Showing the Way
I had hoped to move these paragraphs to more sunny territory, but our clouds and shadows linger. This week, we have suffered the loss of one of our pastors. Sunday night, Jesus escorted Pastor George into his rest and reward. Our shock could not be greater. Our hearts ache for Mary and the family. Pray for the grace of His comfort. Now, we all have to bridge the space between what we thought would be and what is. The Shepherd will lead us.
Pastor George was our pastor thrice over! He has served our congregation in different decades and in various capacities. The fact that his ministry was repeated with us, proves the affection and appeal held by the congregation. My friendship with George was more recent than many but depth of appreciation can be mined quickly. I will miss his invitations to coffee breaks. His energy and friendly engagement were an office stability. Conversations with George were saturated with his optimistic wisdom.
When ministry problems or barriers arose, George was able to explore creative and flexible resolutions. It’s been a privilege to team with him. But even if I set the ministry context aside, his impact for me abides. More than anything, I will miss his modelling of what senior years can be. At 85, George shook off the mantle of senior stereotypes. Rather than retiring into golf and travel, George used his gifts, experience and energy for kingdom contributions. He toyed with retirement three times and found that it didn’t fit; so he continued. He never got lost in nostalgia. His service was not a replay of yesterday. He remained relevant and engaged with today, always aiming for tomorrow. George was not immune to the effects of aging, but neither was he consumed by them. He looked through life’s challenges and focused on God’s grace. I do not bestow sainthood upon George, but I am personally grateful. Here is why.
I have an idea of what I want to be in my more senior years. But frankly I have struggled to see examples of my ideal hopes. Many senior years are manifest with complaint, narrowing perspectives, rigid attitudes, a retreat from current culture, fear and anger at the losses of life. I will not be immune to any of these. But, I have seen what a senior vibrant engagement with life can look like. George’s example has put water and sunshine on my own aspirations. As he would say, “With God all things are possible.”