Recently Jay and I and some friends were sharing memories of people who had helped us on our faith journeys.
We discovered with delight that one of our friends had been in the same church at the same time we were in the early 80s.
We recalled both happy and sad times. We recalled with gratitude the positive impact the pastor had on our lives.
Jay and I grew up in the Methodist church. But early in our marriage, we were introduced to a more charismatic form of worship. We began to explore other churches.
We were led to an Assembly of God church. The pastor had good Words to share in every service. But beyond that, he was compassionate and caring in ministering in a personal way.
We had many questions, as we considered whether we wanted to leave the Methodist world we knew so well. The pastor patiently answered every question. More importantly, he prayed that God would answer the true desires of our heart.
He did. We joined that church. We chose to be baptized by immersion. This was not a simple decision for me.
I had a traumatic childhood experience where a swimming instructor threw me in deep water before I could swim. I almost drowned. I developed a fear of water and a distrust of anyone associated with me and water.
Even though I had pushed that fear way down into my subconscious, I came face to face with it, as I contemplated baptism by immersion.
I realized for me, baptism would be more than a symbolic cleansing of my sins. It would involve letting go of fear. I would have to trust another person to keep me safe in the water.
In the weeks preceding baptism, I prayed. The more I tried to grab hold of faith, the more it eluded me. Finally I heard God in my spirit. He said, “It’s not about holding on. It’s about letting go and trusting Me.”
I came to understand that no matter whose human hands would be holding me, my baptism was to be a Holy Moment between God and me. It would be my choice to let go of fear, trust God, and receive His Mercy and Grace.
The pastor understood his role was to be a guide to the throne of Grace. God was The Baptizer. And it was a very holy moment for me.
Our friend told of her mother’s suffering with cancer. The pastor had visited. He had comforted her in the loss of her mother. She remembered with gratitude.
As we talked about the pastor, it was as if he was in the room with us. The memories were sweet. We thanked God for the way He had worked through the life of the pastor to bless us.
The pastor moved away many years ago. Jay and I continued our spiritual journey, which led us to other churches.
We lost touch with the pastor. After sharing our memories with our friend, I determined to find him. My goal was simple — to thank him for giving to The Lord and to let him know we were lives who were changed.
And so it came to be. After almost 40 years, yesterday I talked to Pastor Ken Groen by phone. It was if no time had passed. We celebrated the memories and talked about what God was doing in our life today. We committed to stay in touch.
Too often in life, we save gratitude for funerals. But oh what a gift to the giver and receiver to share the gratitude on this side of heaven!
Who has poured into your life? Do they know they made a difference? Perhaps this would be the time to contact them and let them know.
As you remember them, perhaps you would like to include them in the prayer of Paul that I now pray for Ken.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about you, since I have you in my heart.
Here is the link to a song dedicated to the many people through whom God has blessed me.