Today is a very special day for my family and I. Today marks our 10-year anniversary of serving the wonderful “real” people of First Christian Church in Suisun City!
Many years ago, I remember expressing to the Lord a secret desire I had: The desire to experience what it would be like to pastor a church for at least one decade. Though He never promises in Scripture to meet every want, by His kindness and grace, He granted a personal desire in my life. For that I’m extremely grateful! During the years I have only grown in my love for our congregation and the community in which I live. I pray that, if it is the Lord’s will, our tenure here will only continue and bear even more fruit for His glory.
As fuzzy and sentimental as my reminiscing is today, the cross-country trek 10 years ago was anything but easy. It took us seven days to travel from central Florida to Suisun City with four vehicles, five adults, eight children, two dogs and a turtle! Our arrival was anything but glorious. It was more of a hobble, due to some mechanical problems as we entered California. But the church was there for us, helpful and wonderful, welcoming us with open arms and helping us unload our jam-packed caravan.
One thing I remember so fondly about our trip here in 1994 was our nightly stops in hotels across the southern part of the United States. After driving long days at a pace sensitive to the children’s needs, we would intentionally scout out and pull into places that had great and relaxing things to offer.
Naturally, the hotel had to have a pool – the daily incentive for our little ones to behave! We’d intentionally looked for spacious rooms, free breakfast buffets, workout rooms and more for the budget in which we were working. Thankfully, we found some great places with all those amenities and more. Each place represented fun, connection time, relaxation and a new outpost in our new family adventure together.
However, as much as we looked forward to every nightly stop and took advantage of every hospitable luxury, we never got too enthralled. Why? Because we were guests, travelers passing through. The hotel was not our final destination. Though we enjoyed and exploited each respectfully, we had not yet arrived. We were on our way to our new home – a better place, a place that was ready for us, a place where our new family would be, a place where we could rest and find peace.
The Bible reminds us that even though we aggressively acquire and claim ownership of many things during our lifetime, that ultimately, it all belongs to God. Likewise, and of such importance and relief, that we are not settlers or owners, but instead travelers passing through, enjoying the sights and blessings, but moving on to another place, a better place: our eternal home.
Many years ago, a missionary doctor was arriving back in America. As his adult son waited at the dock in New York City for his father’s ship to dock, he thought about the great price his father had paid to honor the Lord, serving the sick and dying in the remotest regions of Africa. Predictably, after years of selfless service, the toll on his father’s health was devastating, yet he served diligently.
Finally, heeding his son’s request, he booked his passage back. As the son eagerly waited for the ship to be secured and debarking to take place, he noticed many members of the press eagerly awaiting the ship’s arrival as well. The first one down the gangplank was a renowned actor, dressed in the finest of fashion. Camera bulbs flashed as the gathered mob surrounded him and herded him to a waiting vehicle with shouts of adoration.
After what seemed like an eternity, the son spotted his father slowly and gingerly descending from the liner. He had grown so old in appearance: frail. A limp was evident, the effects of malaria. The lines in his thin face had deepened. Suddenly, an unanticipated anger welled up in the son as he pulled his father passionately to himself.
“Father, where is your fanfare? Where are your photographers? A movie star received a huge ovation, but where is yours? You gave your life for others and nobody is here but me to welcome you home!”
The father lovingly smiled and, looking deeply into his son’s anxious eyes, whispered in a now faint voice, “My son, we’re not home yet.”
Friends, we’re not home yet.
Scripture tells us that this world is passing away. Those who cling to it tightly and place their ultimate hope in it will someday be grossly disappointed. However, those who humble themselves and put their trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and relate to this life as guests passing through, have the promise of someday arriving home – a new home, a better place, a place that is ready for us, a place where our new family will be, a place where we will find rest and peace.
Steve Kiefer is the lead pastor at the First Christian Church in Suisun City. He can be reached at www.1stchristianchurch.org.