This week I got two piece of mail that interested me! Normally my mail is made up of fast food flyers and bills so it is a special occasion when something else finds its way to my door.
The first was a letter from Shawn, the National director of Threshold Ministries. In it he congratulated me on 35 years of ministry with Threshold/Church Army. In some ways I’m not concerned with ‘land mark’ anniversaries, because they come when we merely put one foot in front of the other. I can take little credit for having survived to plod my way through the years but it is good occasionally to look back and see God’s goodness. One thing struck me in this epistle was the mention of ‘humility’ with my service. As I recall my earlier self I don’t think that word would have been used of me. I am still not convinced that it applies but the mere fact that such a descriptor would find its way into a letter addressed to me, amazes and humbles me. 37 odd (very odd!) years ago I arrived for training as a ‘self-made man’ who worshipped his creator. Through the years God has gently and not so gently led me to an understanding of my frailty and fragility but his unending grace and mercy.
Once upon a time I wanted to preach to throngs gathered in arenas and auditoria but I am so glad God had better plans. I think back and ‘see’ a host of individuals I have been privileged to share my life with. From the First Nations boys in Shammattawa to the ex-offenders in Saint John. The throngs have been few but the relationships have been deep. Sometimes I imagine “How poor my life would be if I had been granted my three wishes by a genie God?” But my life has been rich in individuals. Jesus certainly taught the multitudes but the bulk of his story is about individual encounters. My life has been rich in these!
Lately as I have moved from being in roles where I was financial supported by Threshold Ministries to a ministry that involves ‘support raising’, the opportunities for relationships has doubled. It is both humbling and relationally rewarding to be in this place of reliance. I kid sometimes that “Linda and I never took a vow of poverty, it has just worked out that way!” We are not poor by any measure. We have all we need and enough to be generous, as well. I have come to know with certainty that no one can out give God.
The second piece of mail was from the Government of Canada and contained news of our tax refund. This annual rite of spring has often been key to our financial health and always comes as welcome news. It won’t be a shock to those who know me well but I don’t often agree with our government about important issues, but I am glad to live in a country like Canada. People who complain about the persecution of the Church in the West need to read about real persecution in other places in this world.
Yes, our slender bank account is enriched by a tax refund but we are enriched beyond all we can ask or imagine through God and the service to which he has called us.