Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pastor's Perspective - Hawaiian Isles

Few people know that a precious chapter of my ministry training took place in Hawaiian Isles. Allow me to elaborate.

Two weeks ago my family and I had the most delightful time reconnecting with Jim and Sallie McKeown. They flew out to northern California to see the beautiful views and to see our kids! According to Jim, “The last time I was out here I saw the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge on my way to Korea. I wanted to come back some day and see the top side!”

Michelle and I first met Jim and Sallie when Emma was still a baby. Through my ‘father-in-the-faith’ Paul Neal, I heard about a large seasonal retirement community not far from our home called Hawaiian Isles. They were looking for a preacher to fill their pulpit every Sunday morning. I hadn’t prepared weekly sermons since serving a small church in inner-city Chattanooga during my last years of college; so the idea and challenge thrilled me. By God’s loving kindness, hundreds of senior saints from all over the United States and Canada took my young (and much smaller) family into their community and hearts. Our two years serving and forging deep friendships was God’s kiss on our lives and ministry. Playing ‘Monday morning quarterback’, I wouldn’t have been truly ready for my next ministry step if the Lord had not first led us to and through Hawaiian Isles. To Him and to the many dear folks who patiently sat (and slept) through my first messages there, I’m forever grateful.

Through the McKeown’s recent visit, I was reminded of something that I believe is biblical and thus very important to remember – that although we’re getting older, we don’t have to get old! One of the many things we love about them is that they are still so active, inquisitive and adventurous. Even in the face of physical challenges, they still get up and go, carrying wonderful senses of humor along the way. Throughout the Word we read about God using people in their golden years to accomplish great things in His name - Noah, Abraham, Moses to name a few. When many of their contemporaries were getting gold watches, these patriarchs were entering the workforce of faith!

Likewise, doesn’t it make sense that if God’s objective is to slowly transform each of us into the image of His Son, shouldn’t we look most like Jesus in our senior years? For the many seniors I know who have surrendered themselves daily and yearly to the Father’s slow meticulous molding process, congratulations! Well done. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. You are showing younger generations what a Spirit-shaped life truly looks like. That getting older doesn’t mean bitter, but better. Your legacies are priceless. And by the way, I know this pastor who someday wants to grow up, and be just like you!


Jeramy Sossaman said...

so touching! they were so sweet...glad to have met them!

Jim McKeown said...

I thank you so much for you thoughts...I can say for sure, our Blessings on our visit to your church and your home, "FAR" out weighed any blessing that anybody in California could even imagine!! I will carry to my grave the last site I saw as we left to go home, you and your whole family standing together, waving goodby to us with tears streaming down your faces. Praise God from whom ALL Blessings flow!!
Dad & Mom McKeown