I’ve always said I was privileged to be called into vocational ministry in serving God’s Kingdom, Church and World. Some weeks, I feel the joy of that privilege more than others. This was one of those strange and wonderful, unique weeks in the life of a local church pastor.
I can’t speak for all pastors, but most of us do a little work outside the hour you see us on Sunday mornings. Sometimes our service calls us to visit, counsel, pray, study, teach and comfort. Other times our service calls us to hunt down a plumber when the toilet runs, get quotes for a new church roof, stock the church closet with paper towels and Kleenex, or update the finance records and church website. I never know what each week will hold.
This week, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit and pray with a new life, just entering this world and an old life, preparing to pass onto the next. In the span of seven days, I saw the first and the last days of human life.
At the bedside of both, the words of Psalm 121 flooded my heart and mind. “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and Earth” (v.1).
The creator of heaven and Earth is our steadfast help in times of trouble and our delight in times of joy. The psalmist promises the Lord will keep us. The Hebrew root word we translate “to keep” was first used in Genesis where Adam was instructed to keep the garden; it means to watch over, to guard, to protect or to take great care over. In this psalm the Lord promises “to keep our life” (v7), our “going out” and “coming in from this time on and forevermore” (v8).
God, most fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit is not only our creator but also our keeper and protector. Trouble will surely come our way – simple troubles like sunburns, scratches and wounds will be part of our life just as suffering and struggle from cancer, mental health, world wars, indebtedness and addiction. But, through it all, the Lord remains our keeper.
God is present for our first and last moments in this life. Those and all the moments in between are held precious in God’s sight. In this season of Easter, as we bask in resurrection life, pause to give thanks to our creator and keeper.