Jump Start # 2806
Romans 6:4 “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.”
Last Sunday a young man in our congregation was baptized into Jesus Christ. His journey began. The next day, on Monday, word came that an old preacher, famous historian and friend, Ed Harrell, ended his journey here. Ed was 91. I thought about that, side by side, a journey starting and a journey ending. A long time ago, Ed Harrell was in the shoes of that young man, just starting out a journey with the Lord.
We all start the same way. Now, some of us have a huge upside advantage because of our background and our parents. Many have grown up understanding the Lord’s ways and the value of pure worship to God. We have come from homes where honesty was expected and practiced. Prayers were as normal as cereal for breakfast. And, when we became Christians, we already had years of sermons and Bible classes under our belt and in our hearts. What a blessing to start that way.
For others, it was a slow, uphill journey for them. They did not have the advantage that others did. They may have come from a broken home where cuss words filled the air every day. They may have seen the ugly side of sin with abuse, drunken parents and God’s name blasphemed. Worship was never on the schedule. Prayers were non-existent. And, yet, from such a twisted background, some of us found our way to the Lord and our journey began. We didn’t know the books of the Bible. There were many, many stories that we had never heard before. There were major sections of the Bible that we never read. Yet, our journey began.
And, with each of us, our journey has had some twists and turns and ups and downs. Some have grown a bit cold in their faith, especially during the college years. Some may have walked away from the Lord for a while. There has been tough days, sad days and a whole lot of common everyday days. We found on this journey that some excel. Some grow and become teachers, preachers and leaders. Some become the backbone of the congregation through diligent commitment, hospitality and devoted love. Others tend to drift. School, dating, marriage, kids, career, aging parents, moving, those are all the things that we experience on this journey with the Lord. Some seize opportunities and really help the kingdom. Some miss those opportunities. Some keep getting better and better. Some stay about the same.
A journey started and a journey completed. And, in between those two milestones are you and I. We’ve started but we haven’t finished.
As I was thinking about all of this it took me back to the start of my journey. It was in the month of March. I was a senior in high school. I had dreams of working for the Forest Service out west. My plans were to graduate from Purdue, say goodbye to Indiana and head West. Now, all these years later, I’m still in Indiana. I’m not working for the Park service. I preach. I started at Purdue, but didn’t finish up there. Now, four and a half decades later, what would I have done differently at the start of my journey? Have you ever thought about that? Those thoughts could help someone taking their first steps with the Lord.
First, I would have connected better with older righteous people. I have a vast collection of material from those first congregations I worshipped with. I never really knew the shepherds of those congregations. I wish I had spent an afternoon with each of them and allowed them to guide me with their perspectives. I was a teenager and they seemed ancient to me, but looking back I would have benefited so much. Not too many years ago, I spent an afternoon with one of those men. He was frail and aged, but his mind was sharp. He shared great insights into the history of the churches in Indianapolis. That was rich for me.
Second, I would have found a specific plan to read and study the Bible through. Today, there are so many reading programs for the Bible. I don’t remember ever hearing of one back then. Also, starting early, it would have helped to develop a regular habit of reading the Bible every day. Oversleeping in the morning and staying out too late at night kills daily Bible reading. Starting with great habits and sticking with them would have made a wonderful difference.
Third, I had a great relationship with preachers, but I would have spent more time in their libraries learning the value of great books. I was more of a self taught, pull yourself up by your own bootstraps kind of person and there were many valuable things that would have helped me had I made myself available to the powerful help around me.
And, I believe as each of us thinks back, there were great things that helped us and some opportunities that we missed. Sharing those with others can help them in their journey. We travel the same way and the blessings in life we need to share with others to help them. All of us have been helped by others.
A journey started and a journey ended. That will be said of us as we walk with the Lord. And, through that journey we learn things and we leave footprints for others. We can make the way easier for others by what we do.
Things to talk about and share with others…