The Journey Never Ends

G. Campbell Morgan was one of the most successful and influential pastors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Because of that, he was given all kinds of offers from many different places and people. John Wannamaker, the great merchant of Philadelphia, offered to build Morgan a million-dollar church if he would become its pastor. Morgan turned him down, something the wealthy Wanamaker was not accustomed to in his dealings with people. "I am God's man," said Morgan. "If I did that, I would become John Wanamaker's man."

I have only told the following story to a very few people over the years, but many years ago, the leadership of a church that I served came to me with an offer… they said, “Ray if you will sign a contract agreeing to remain our pastor for at least ten more years, we are prepared to purchase a one-million-dollar annuity in your name that we will give to you at the end of the ten years.” I was a much younger man then and frankly the prospect of a million dollars being mine in a relatively short period of time was both flattering and tempting. I told the group that I would think and pray about the offer. I loved the church, and I loved the people, they were just like you here at Ridgecrest. And I could certainly envision myself being there for ten years or more. But after praying for a couple of days, I knew what my answer must be. So, I met with them again and declined their gracious offer. I shared with them my gratitude at their thoughtfulness and then explained my reason for declining. It wasn’t because Alison and I had plenty, far from it, God was providing our needs, just as He promised, but there was no surplus by any means. I certainly had no plans to leave them, and even assumed that I would be there for 10 years or more and told them so. Yet I explained that I could not sign the contract. And the reason was, I feared that my flesh would become so influenced by gaining the “pot of gold” at the end of ten years, that I would become insensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting’s in my life, my ministry, and in God’s plans for my future.

Now God knows that I am not telling you that story out of pride or to convince you of my nobility, or spirituality. No, I tell you that story for one reason. It is because had I agreed to their contract, I would never have become your pastor. I am so glad I didn’t sign! I know that the worship folder said that my anniversary with you was last week, but actually it was on this Sunday, twenty-two years ago that I was blessed to begin serving as your pastor! I don’t mind telling you that it has been a fast 2 decades, it feels like we began just yesterday! I can also tell you that it has been a wonderful journey and continues to be so. There have been so many highs, and some lows, but only a few lows along the way. With your commitment and obedience, we have seen God do so many things, so many lives have been changed and so much has been accomplished for the Kingdom of God. I truly believe it was a fit made in heaven.

So, on this occasion let me say thank you. Thank you for putting up with my imperfections. Thank you for loving my wife and family, (they still love God, and they still love Ridgecrest, and that is sometimes an unusual thing for a pastor’s family after many years of ministry demands). And thank you for following my lead. In closing let me end this column with a couple of things that I began with 22 years ago… The journey with God never ends because God is always trying to take us someplace new.

And I love being your Pastor!!!

For God’s Glory Alone,
Pastor Ray
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