I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4 NIV
We have known for a year since Pastor Rick first announced his coming retirement, that this day was coming, yet on receiving the official announcement, I was still overwhelmed. No, Rick and Kay have not been perfect people, nor is Saddleback a church without fault, yet the impact they have made together has been tremendous. But rather than revisit old arguments back and forth over their Purpose Driven model; today might be a day of to put that aside and be thankful for the good they have done, the sacrifices made and the many who have come to know Jesus because of them.
I remember first opening a shiny new copy of the Purpose Driven Church back in 1995-96. Its concepts were simple, challenging and gave hope for reaching our communities for Christ. Too long we had either met between four walls, with minimal positive outreach, or gathered for stadium events, which though outwardly successful, seemed to have little impact in our own local churches. Sure, there are lots of things I wish were different with our own church which seems to follow closely their model, but we are at least in some areas truly growing, baptizing new believers and trying new things every year to serve our community.
But church politics aside, let’s pause and be thankful for Rick and Kay. Let’s pray for God to continue to keep them in His hands and bless them as a family that has been through much together in the service of Jesus. More than this, let’s realize that as Rick said of their replacements, “… God has prepared and chosen them to take up the baton and run the next leg of the Saddleback marathon.” God has also prepared and chosen each of us to either be passing or taking up the baton where we live (I’m in the passing generation). I learned from the track team on which I once ran, that winning the relay race was more than just running fast. Our team won first place in the state in 1965, not just because our guys were the quickest, but because every one of them passed the baton flawlessly on to the guy running the next leg of the race. The key was that the approaching runner could not slow down even a quarter second. He had to keep up the same pace as he stretched out his arm with the baton. The receiving runner could not just stand there waiting. He had to start running beforehand and then match his pace with the one behind him till they were almost side by side, then, with a seemingly effortless move he grasped on to the baton and took off alone to run his leg of the race. So, don’t slow down, if you are the one giving it your all to pass on the gift that God has given you. Run with all that is in you- not to – but through, the finish of your lap. For you who are waiting for the baton to reach you. Don’t just stand around waiting for it to be handed to you on a silver platter. Get going! Start running your best, till you match the pace of the one who is handing on to you what God has chosen for you to receive. We are all on the same team – Team Jesus! And when we finish our course, there is a victor’s crown that waits, which we will one day cast at the feet of Jesus – who loved us and gave His life so that we could run the race!
You can read my post from a year ago here