There’s a beautiful poem in Ecclesiastes, the third chapter. I’ll quote a bit here:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…
When I heard about my pastor’s upcoming retirement service and all the people from my youthful days who would be returning to celebrate the life of this man and his wife, the Lord impressed this passage on me. That this was my time to honor all these people.
My church–headed by this pastor– was the primary factor in so many blessings in my life. Dr. Euler had lots and lot of missionaries in to speak, for example.
After hearing one of them, when I was about 15, I became very interested in becoming a missionary.
Then, this man, Dr. Loftis, was a loved and frequent visitor– a man and his wife who’d left this church to serve in the former Soviet Union as it opened up in the early 90s.
The Lord used him to turn my heart towards Russia, then Ukraine. He helped plan my first short-term missions trip when I was 16 (and my parents let me go!!) Mrs. Loftis used to patiently write me hand-written reply letters all the way from Hungary. Those letters meant a lot to me.
And did any of us imagine the intimate way my life would later be connected to Ukraine?!? No. But God knew. He was making my paths straight, even then.
And where would I be without my mom and dad?
Now, as I was growing up in this church, there were sweet people who touched my life a lot.
And as I pondered them, and the wonderful impact they had on my life, I learned something —
You know, sometimes I struggle with the ordinariness of life. And I look at these lives, and they lived “ordinary” lives in the Lord. They all had struggles and made mistakes, but mostly, they were faithful, pursued God, served us, loved us.
And the collective weight of all those faithful years lived around me formed me. They were a huge, shaping force in my life.
The couple in this photo above– My youth pastor and his wife. I think about this man very often now that I am an adult. He did yearly programs with us teaching us the discipline of reading our Bibles every day, praying regularly, taking sermon notes, serving others.
And only now do I begin to fathom the enormous foundation of Scripture that fills my life, my thoughts, my decisions. And how easy it is for me to read the Bible because I’m so familiar with it. Because I now see people who don’t have that gift in their past.
I am very thankful.
This beautiful lady below opened up her heart to me, a teenager, and mentored me, encouraged me, met with me, wrote me letters, always pointing me to Christ, to God’s words. When we parted yesterday, she said she still prays for me and reminded me that “we never get above needing God’s Word.”
These are friends of my parents who loved me, too—gave money for my mission trips, let me go out with them and listen to adult talk, taught me Sunday school, taught me in school–
And my principal & his wife, who always took a personal interest in what was going on in my life;
The list goes on, but my photos don’t, so I’ll stop here. But it’s been good to remember, to be thankful, and to speak these words to people who gave me so much.
Thank you, Dr. Euler.