Despite Obstacles, The Vision Continues

by J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Good afternoon, Pastor James," I greeted as I approached him in a Lakes Region convalescent home. Characteristic of my friend, he was clean-shaven, dressed in a new pullover sweater and neatly pressed trousers. "Wonderful to see you," I continued. Pastor James smiled. "Shall we walk to the lounge?" I offered. "Excellent idea," was his friendly reply. We sauntered into a spacious room. Sunlight poured through the windows. "You look dapper today." Once again, Pastor James beamed, then peered out the window. "What do you see?" I asked. "I see the fences need to be moved to the left." I glanced through those same windows, but saw no fences. "Once we move those fences to the left, we can get that snow away from the edge of the building." Pastor James paused, planning further strategy. "Then I think we could really get to the work. You know, we must keep up the work-the plan God has for us. We just can't let down in the work," he persisted. A woman across the room wailed, breaking our conversation. "You have a lot of ideas," I encouraged, recalling all the years Pastor James woke up to face the challenges of his own church. "We must get the people organized," he continued. "They will be willing. But first we must get those fences moved to the left. Then the ministry can go forward." "How are you eating these days?" I interjected. "I am eating well, thank you." "You look healthy, vigorous." "Thank you. Thank you very much." He smiled appreciatively. "So, you're doing a lot these days with the activities they have planned for you? I see the social calendar posted in the hallway." "Yes. Yes. But..." Now he lifted his arm to point through those windows once again. He looked away, staring at the side of the building. "It's what's before us. When I get those fences moved to the left, we can get the congregation where it should be. There is a lot to be done. And we will get it done! The people have a mind to work." There was no hesitancy concerning his hoped-for projections in advancing the eternal Kingdom. As we continued chatting, I wondered about all the events that had scribed his particular biography. Certainly, he had endured his share of stresses and disappointments. No doubt he had tolerated plenty of injustices-betrayals. After more sharing, I said gently, "I think it's time for me to say good-bye. I'll see you again. Shall we have prayer before I go?" I fully intended to pray aloud for Pastor James, thanking God for his commitment to the work. However, before I could get the first word out, he had leaned forward in his chair, placed his hand on his knee, bowed his head, and offered the prayer himself. His words flowed, in fine order, with conviction. I sensed that years of interceding still could be presented as a powerful sacrifice. "Help us, God, to stay with the plan. We mean to get it finished for your glory. We mean to do just that. There is much to be done; and the people are willing." So he went on and on as I listened in awe, attentive to a saint at prayer. After his Amen, together we stood to walk out of that lounge. Another visit had come to a close. But a pastor's life was still going forward. Even with Alzheimer's disease laying siege, Pastor James would continue what he had given his earthly stay to do-furthering the work of God.
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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