“Neither do these things move me,” said Paul. “Nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
I enjoy telling of the last words–okay, “some” of the last–of Ty Cobb, the baseball great. For 22 years, he played lights-out ball for the Detroit Tigers, setting records many of which are still on the books. I was told he gave his life to Jesus Christ and was transformed sometime in the last weeks or months of his life.
He sent a message to the men he’d played ball with.
“Tell them, ‘fellows, I got in the bottom of the ninth. I sure wish I’d come in the top of the first.'”
If we think of our lives like a nine-inning ball game, the final inning would be our last time to do anything before the “game was called” and the park was darkened.
What inning are you in?
A week or two after God called my wife to Himself and left me a basketcase of grief and tears, He spoke to me one night. I jumped out of bed and wrote it down so I would never forget the exact words:
“Margaret’s work is ended. Your work continues. Get on with it.”
He did not say how much longer I have, nor would I have expected He would. My 75th birthday comes at the end of this month, but in my mind at least, it’s just a number. I feel great and according to all the medical tests we do regularly, my health is excellent. The invitations to preach and cartoon and serve continue to pour in, so life goes forward.
No one has invited me to sing at Carnegie or act on Broadway yet, but I’m not ruling anything out just yet.
I am grateful for His calling, and trying very hard to “get on with” the work He has given me.
My wife was a big part of the ministry to which the Lord called me in 1961. Even when she could no longer travel with me, she prayed. These days, one of the thousand things I miss is calling home after a worship service giving a report on how things went.
A friend sent me the testimony of Ezekiel. “So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:18).
So far, I’ve not missed an assignment the Lord had for me in preaching or ministering. Clearly, during the time of her collapse, hospitalization, death and burial, He had provided a window on my calendar. (Correction: After Margaret was stricken with the pulmonary embolism and lay in the ICU, I did cancel one out-of-town preaching event.)
Anyway, I’m back at work. Retired? What’s that?
The question might arise as to what exact work the Lord intends for me to “get on with.” This is what I am doing and how I am trying to answer the question (but not in the order of priority; only as they occur to me)….
1) At keeping up the blog.
Today, a friend in another state told me that one of her ministers quoted something of mine in a message. She approached afterwards to ask if he knew me, ready to inform him that I used to be her pastor. He simply said, “No. But I follow his blog.”
A blog done well–help me Lord!–can touch the world when done right. What an opportunity.
2) At preaching the Word. This is the greatest call of all, and the one with the greatest potential and deepest fulfillment.
This week, it’s a four-day revival in a wonderful suburban church in Northwest Arkansas. Two days following, I’ll be doing a Friday/Saturday men’s retreat at a center in our state. The next day, I’ll bring the two morning services at a large Baton Rouge church which is preparing to welcome its new pastor. Next month, I’ll be in California for a pastors retreat in the Sierras.
3) At continuing to turn out cartoons for Baptist Press and a few other publications that ask. Requests arrive several times a week.
4) At writing my One Minute Bible Studies for Facebook. We’re also transferring these to a Word program for a possible book. Presently, we have over 210 of these.
5) Serendipity. To meet strangers and draw them, and see where this leaders. Last night, in the restaurant in Northwest Arkansas, I sketched a few waitresses, the owner, and several customers who came over. This morning, in Bob Evans Restaurant, I sketched a family from Enid, Oklahoma and two waiters.
This week, I’ll be drawing nonstop before and after the church services. I meet some great people, and frequently have wonderful witnessing opportunities this way.
6) Family. To minister to my children and grandchildren as I’m able.
7) Counseling. To take calls from pastors and other church leaders asking for counsel on various situations. I’m honored to be able to advise them. One advantage to having served churches over half a century is there are few situations you’ve not experienced or seen.
What else? The Lord knows and so far, He’s not telling. I’m just fine by that. One thing I’ve learned very well from following Him for over 60 years is that the Lord will let me in on His plans when He feels I’m ready to act on my part, and not until. And that suits me just fine.
I wouldn’t be surprised if He asks me to do something I’ve never done before. And won’t that be fun.
So grateful for the Lord’s nearness, for His promises, and for His precious people, all of which make every burden bearable and every day a blessing.
God is good. All the blessed time.