This post very much relates to the Francis Chan video I shared on this blog-space on Monday of this week. I’ll be honest. I’ve been a pastor for a lot of years now. I’ve seen some really amazing things, and I’ve seen some really depressing things. High on my list of very depressing things over the years have been the many older followers of Jesus who have told me that they’re done risking for the kingdom of God, and they’ve said it with the words, “I’ve done my time!” It’s depressed me every time I’ve asked older, very loving, very godly, seasoned believers to help or serve in some way that would be a cake-walk for their vast array of gifts and experiences, and they’ve said no. Sadly they’ve often told me they didn’t want to accept the invitation because they “did their time.” To them this meant they taught Sunday School for 20 years – so they’re done. They served on some finance committee at a church for ten years – so they’re done. They talk about service to the great God of the kingdom of heaven as if it was a prison sentence (“doin’ time”) and as if many years of hard labor earns them a phone-it-in, gentle slide into the eternal embrace of Jesus. The last time I checked, God invited us to “go and make disciples” in every situation, location and age or stage of life we find ourselves. I just don’t think there are any “I did my time” responses that fit into God’s renewal project of this broken world.
Having admitted all of the above, I am humbled to find myself in a season of life beginning to have more of an understanding for the seasoned believers who have so irked me over the years. I’m discovering that you do arrive at a later season of life, after having taken great risks for Jesus and His kingdom in your early years, that you do grow a little more tired (and perhaps a bit more anxious ) about more risk for the sake of Jesus. I now see that as godly people grow old, the tugs and temptations of the heart may not be about the lust, greed and other familiar vices of our youth as much as it can be the temptation to preserve and protect the comfort we’ve worked so hard to attain after years of service. I confess that I feel it, and I’m battling that strong allure of the heart.
So in the same way that honest father, who desperately wanted Jesus to heal his son, declared “I believe, but help me in my unbelief” I’ve been praying an honest prayer to the Father – “I am willing to keep on risking, but my help unwillingness.” How about you?