More and more, I am convinced that I see the world differently than most. I suppose one could argue that each person’s perspective is unique, and I would concede that. We all experience the world in our own special way. However, my outlook is shaped by some unique dynamics that are situation specific. I am a pastor and that designation colors everything I see.
My time spent in Scripture is certainly the main influencer of my worldview, but that alone doesn’t explain what I see. It’s seeing God’s Word fulfilled in the lives of our people that forms my perspective. The position I hold grants me access into the most extreme periods in the lives of others.
When life unravels and the pain is excruciating, I have the privilege of standing alongside the suffering. Marriages are wrecked by immorality, wayward children depress their parents, drunken parents anger their children, and disease cripples the aged. I have no illusions when it comes to sin. Behind every errant, sad story I see its presence and I know that it is merciless. James had it right when he traced sin’s route from desire to death (James 1:15). Sadly, I have witnessed too many take that path.
But on the other extreme, I get to see the power of redemption. Not every sad story ends in tears. Many times I get to see the lost find Christ, and experience His love and forgiveness. Jesus is gracious to take the wrecked remains of their life and piece together something wonderful. Relationships are restored, hope is born, and losers become conquerors. Many of these victories are private affairs and I consider myself blessed to be invited in. My eyes can testify that grace trumps sin, and loss can always become victory.
Being a preacher comes with many benefits, but at this point I am most grateful for the perspective I have been given. By seeing the extremes I am better able to navigate the middle. Temptation still has its appeal, but I am too acquainted with the cost to linger long in its company. Grace still requires surrender, but I am too familiar with its rejuvenating power to refuse the price. What I have seen has shaped my preferences for good.
Oh, I wish I was immune to sin and folly, but sadly I am not. My position doesn’t make me totally resilient, but it does make me more aware. And my purpose in sharing this is that you will watch yourself closely and remain on the narrow way. Life is not lived in the extremes, but it does lead there. I hope that your journey concludes in victory.