My 2013 started somewhat strangely. After being in a house with 15 other people, many of us at some point or another had suffered some flu-like symptoms. So January 1 was celebrated by a family recovering from or still experiencing some form of sickness. As we gathered around the table for dinner, thanking the Lord for another year to serve Him, my phone rang. If it’s urgent, the person on the other end will text, email, IM, or send up a bat signal! A few seconds later, a text came. I didn’t wait for the bat signal, I excused myself to check my phone.
A few days before, I contacted my home pastor, Pastor Mike Kinney (under whose ministry I got saved), about having dinner together prior to a midweek service. He was the one calling! I guess he, too, has been battling flu-like symptoms and would have to cancel our dinner meeting. Then what came next absolutely floored and humbled me at the same time. Pastor Kinney asked me to preach the midweek service. Every preacher worth their salt knows that when God presents an opportunity to preach, you do not turn it down, if at all possible. I humbly accepted and that’s when the nerves began.
The next 24 hours was spent in quiet study, reflection, and meditation. As my wife and I drove down to Lacey, Washington, I couldn’t control my emotions. We talked about what God did in my life, and to my shame, what I failed to do for God, as we drove down the streets where I spent my teen years. As we approached the church, I began to feel a lump in my throat and a tear in the corner of my eye. This is where it all began for me, humanly speaking. This was the place where God’s will met with my weakness; where this sinner recognized Jesus as Saviour; where God took a nobody and introduced me to Somebody so that I can tell everybody about Him!
We got out of the car and I started to take pictures of my spiritual genesis. I then rounded the corner to find the side door from which I exited that morning of October 4, 1992. Right outside the door pictured above is where I got saved!
A couple of hours later, I stood behind the pulpit of the man who invested so much in my life. As I looked out into the crowd, I saw the woman who challenged me when I was 17 years old by asking, “Why don’t you just stop running and start living for God?” I saw the man who would call me every Sunday morning to make sure I was awake and ready to come to church. I saw an elderly couple who, in spite of my rebellious disposition as a teenager, always smiled at me and told me they were praying for me.
It was hard to hold my emotions in as I preached. It was even more difficult to see these folks and hug their necks. I tried to say “thanks” to everyone but it didn’t seem enough. Until one of them simply said, “Just keep going and don’t quit! That’s thanks enough for me.”
Just keep going. Don’t quit. I don’t know what 2013 holds but after catching a glimpse of my past, I am excited about my future because of what God has already done for me! How about you? What’s your 2013 looking like? Will you keep going or will you, at some point, quit?