It is 11:10 p.m. Sunday night. Prayer Week ’87 is over. For me, the Advent/Christmas/Prayer Week season is over. Lord, I am tired. I could cry just thinking about a cold cat in the snow. (And I don’t even like cats. Cats are the animal version of snobbery like dogs are the animal version of loyalty—except poodles, which are too much like cats.) Not that I might cry because I am sad! I am deeply happy. My heart is full of love to God and to you and to the work of the ministry. My cup is running over. My head is moist with the oil of gladness. My hopes are high for the year ahead.
But my body … (“brother ass,” as C.S. Lewis calls it) is weary to the bone. And when my body is fatigued the threshold of my tears goes down. I think it’s like being pregnant. At least I have that by rumor. My wife never had a day of morning sickness or emotional splat with our four sons. Or have I just forgotten? In any case, I really am the emotional one in this family. Noël maintains her altitude somewhere around 25,000 feet, give or take an inch. I have to use a special God-given sonar to keep from bumping my belly on Buck Hill—sometimes.
But not tonight. I am full of the gladness of God. Thanks for singing happy birthday Sunday night. That, too, can make a pastor misty. It was a good 41st year, even if half of it was spent nursing the terminally ill dream of consolidation with First Baptist. Now I ponder that in nine years I will be half a century old. It holds no threats for me. I have my sights on heaven, anyway. To live is Christ and to die is gain. If I can remain “for the advancement and joy of your faith” I will be very glad. If I am promoted to the presence of the Commander, I will cheer for you with the “great cloud” of witnesses.
This year holds some exciting things:
1) Desiring God is supposed to be off the presses mid-February. That will be a major event in the life of our church because of how many ways I think we will be able to do outreach with it—as well as deepen our own congregational grasp of the theology that drives the motor of this staff.
2) I am planning a trip to the Young Leaders’ Conference in Singapore called “Singapore ‘87” June 1-10. I’ll tell you more about it later. Just before that I will visit the Philippines, Lord willing, and teach for two weeks at the Manila Bible Community—our conference ministry there. I hope I can visit the Esplands and speak in their church, too.
3) I am scheduled to speak at a three-day spiritual emphasis week at Northwestern College in the spring and to do a seminar at the Missions Conference there called “Harvest ‘87” in February as well as bring the final lecture to the Perspectives course.
4) Our staff is hosting a pastors’ and church leaders’ gathering at our church January 26 just before Founders Week begins at Bethel. It will be two lectures on C.H. Spurgeon plus discussion and worship. Long-range we are dreaming of a major pastors’ conference in April 1988. Pray that J.I. Packer will accept our invitation to come. He is presently considering it.
5) Perhaps best of all, the Long Range Planning Committee will bring us a report and recommendation this year on where we go from here.
Which brings us back to the issue of fatigue. Three Sunday morning services is like a marathon. I recover somewhere around Thursday, depending on what else is going on. I hope we don’t have to be in this mode very long. But I wouldn’t trade the blessings of growth and challenge for anything.
By the time you get this I will have four days away at Shalom House to plan the spring messages and to rest.