Last summer we drove to San Diego, CA and back. It took us 14 days and we logged almost 6,000 miles. Yet I can recall 100 great stories and 1,000,000 images from that trip in my mind in about 30 seconds. I guess this is why everyday is 24 hours no matter how you approach it, but looking back makes life seem as if it happens way too fast.
If I could sum up my ministry here at Ridgecrest it would be to describe it as a short trip down a long road. There were times it seemed as if we would never get there and like impatient children we pleaded with God, “How much longer?” By the calendar we have been together for about 9.5 years, but looking back it doesn’t seem long at all.
When a pastor enters a new situation the focus is on what must be done for the church. The agenda is on where the church is headed. What will be its new direction? Where does it desire to be? We call this vision. Personally I can look back and realize there was another journey on the agenda of God. He had a vision for me. In the end where did He desire for me to be? It was a long road.
I can say that I am at a much better place now that I was when I came here 9.5 years ago. Our congregation has experienced a geographic relocation. I have experienced a spiritual one. The church has bought and sold campuses. My soul has been humbled and my faith reconstructed. When I came here I thought it was the church that had a long way to go. Looking back now I realize that I was the one who had the greater distance to travel.
I am thankful for those who remained faithful and loyal. You have extended great grace to me throughout these years and your love for me makes it very difficult to leave. Yet we must continue to go. There is another long road ahead for each of us.
For the rest of my life I will recall 100 great stories and 1,000,000 images from Ridgecrest in my mind. The mind replays memories at odd times. Walking down halls. Listening to the radio. Driving down the road. Eating a biscuit. We see, hear, or smell something that reminds us of an episode in the past. Memories are manufactured films in our brains that have been removed from time. Our mind takes a minute to think about nine years. It was a short trip down a long road for which I will be forever grateful.