Yesterday, I became the pastor of the church that was my first pastorate 44 years and 2 months ago. It also is the church where about 49 years and 7 months ago that I invited Jesus Christ into my heart and life, and was baptized, beginning my Christian walk. Now, as I enter into this new phase of my ministry, I have COME FULL CIRCLE.
As I approach this important new position as shepherd of God's flock, I am filled with all the apprehension of a brand new preacher, taking on his first charge, and when I think about it, perhaps that is exactly the feeling that I should have at this point. Anything more would be arming myself with a weight of any past laurels I may have had, and less dependence on the God Who is truly the One Who acheived them. Before me lies not simply a congregation that represents another step on my journey, but a people who, too, have a journey to fulfil, and now, hoping to do so with a new pastor to lead them in the right path.
Full circle, yes, and for each time I have stepped into that most sacred place of proclamation, it must be ever with the same resolve and purpose ... to preach Christ for the edification of the church, the members particular, and to share the good news of Christ to those who do not yet know Him as their Saviour and Lord!
Full circle, yes, and though I have grown somewhat wiser and more prepared to meet the challenges of my task, that task is the same as it was 44 years and 2 months ago. Mostly different faces, perhaps two or three added generations of people, but in every other way, the same. Come home again, oh yes, I have, and with a new resolve to take all I've learned and with God's guiding Spirit, do a better job than I did before.
It occurs to me that COMING FULL CIRCLE is exactly how God created His world to be. When He first created man and placed Him in that special Garden of Eden, there to fellowship and walk with God, He knew even then that man would sin and fall from its innocent perfect order. His design all along was to have His only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem man's fallen condition and restore "Eden" again. To come home again! Consider these passages that provide the covers of all God has done and will do. Genesis 2:8-9 "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden..." and Revelation 22:1-2 "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Oh, dear friends, we do have a great task to proclaim, and it is ever the same. Be encouraged and do it with all of God's granted might and will.