May 13, 1988: Brilliant, energetic, 26-year-old preacher boy with gorgeous wife and 5-day-old daughter walks across the stage and receives his seminary Master’s degree with the expectation that some grateful church would be waiting anxiously to call him as their pastor.
Dec. 4, 1988: After continuing his part-time youth/music ministry and working full-time as a roofer, said preacher boy (who really never thought he was brilliant, but it made for a good first paragraph) preaches his first sermon as pastor of a troubled little church full of senior citizens in the declining town of Tucumcari, N.M. His energy was tolerated, even appreciated, but it was not contagious.
March 24, 1991: After two years and four months learning how to love people and celebrate every hint of God working (even when it seems incredibly slow) and being loved by all those senior citizens, said preacher boy loads up his gorgeous wife and two small children and heads back to Texas to pastor his next church.
And he has learned how to be a pastor.
Aug. 3, 2014: Said preacher boy, far from brilliant and far less energetic, but with a wealth of ministry experience behind him, loads up his gorgeous wife and grown-up children (and spouses), and heads back to Tucumcari to attend the 75th anniversary of the little church that has struggled to keep the doors open for the past several years.
Ok, that’s enough talking in third person. You knew I was talking about myself.
Yesterday’s visit to Trinity Baptist Church in Tucumcari was special. I was their pastor 25 years ago on their 50th anniversary. I was the special guest preacher 15 years ago on their 60th anniversary. I said a few words yesterday, and our family sang a couple of songs, but I was just one of three former pastors who spoke briefly.
It was more about remembering where we came from. I certainly experienced stronger emotions yesterday than I have on those previous trips as I remembered so many precious saints who have gone on to Heaven.
It seems that the best days of TBC are behind it. Many people, even those my age, think their best days are behind them. I hope neither is the case.
It’s great to fondly remember the yesterdays, but I, personally, am always looking forward to the tomorrows. Are there some anxieties and uncertainties? Yes. Do we sometimes wonder if Tomorrow will be as good to us as Yesterday? Of course.
That’s why I personified Tomorrow in the title of this post. Hey, Tomorrow! Will you still love me?
Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.”
I don’t know about Tomorrow, but I know the God of tomorrow. Our lives and our churches matter to Him because we, and they, are His.
Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.