Ten years ago, I was a pastor in Fort Worth and in Haltom City, Texas. It was the days of my first pastorate, it was the first year of my marriage, and mostly it was in the pre- 9/11 era. This week, because of a church conference, I was able to return to Fort Worth for a few hours for the first time in over six years. And driving down those roads I drove so often back then, seeing my two first churches, and, most of all, seeing a remarkable number of friends (whom I had little chance to let them know I was coming) was a real joy.
The temptation is to fall back into a “could have, would have, should have” mode of thinking. I surely would have done some things differently if I knew then what I know now, but that, of course, would be true of any time of my life. Another temptation is to think what it might have been like if we had never left. But pastors almost never stay in their first call beyond five years (mine lasted just about four) and if I had stayed there I never would have had some of the experiences that I absolutely believe God intended me to have. If I had stayed in Fort Worth, I never would have joined the Chaplain Corps, never would have known all the folks I met in Shreveport, San Antonio, Dayton, and Metairie. I never would have gone through CPE or had the chance to minister in five different presbyteries. And I wouldn’t be here, at Parkway, which I know is part of God’s plan for me.
My days in Fort Worth will always be some of the happiest and most fulfilling of my life. I hope to return and visit many times. It feels so good to share smiles with folks you knew so well back then. But I also want to take the good experiences I had and apply them where God has called me now.
One day surely I too will drive by my current church and have happy memories. But the good news is now is the time to build many many more.
What days do you like to reminisce over in your life? Why do you think God gave you those experiences? How will you apply them in the present?
Until next time,