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Out Our Way: Not yet

Philippians 1:23 "I am torn between two desires, I long to go and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is necessary for you that I remain in the body."

Out our way, you carry a canteen when working cows on the "Tiger" because the days get long and hot and dusty. More than a few times I was ready to call it a day and ride over the ridge to where Charlie's red horse trailer waited to take Charlie, Jet, me and Doc back home.

I recall one day that I was really saddle sore - being a tenderfoot I still hadn't quite gotten the knack of long hours on horseback that Charlie had - and we were approaching the horse trailer area. Even Doc could sense we were about done and after giving a sneeze and his traditional "That's it" sneeze - we started a fast trot over the rise and down to our trip home.

But then Charlie called out that he had spotted a few strays we needed to get back to the herd, so, reluctantly, Doc and I turned around and rode back to work. Aches and pains and being bone tired didn't matter. There were still strays to go after.

The Apostle Paul suffered a great deal during his time on earth. An honored Pharisee commissioned by the Temple and Sanhedrin to persecute the followers of the "heretic" Jesus of Nazareth, whom some clearly delusional followers said had risen from the dead, Saul - as was his given name - rode with an entourage to Damascus to arrest as many of the heretical followers of the Nazarene as he could find. But on the way the supposed "fake Messiah" appeared to Saul and he discovered that it was all true.

From that moment on, Saul - who changed his name to "Paul," which means "small and humble," - lost his old life of power and prestige and honor. Instead he ended up in poverty, persecution, imprisonment, and ultimately was put to death by beheading. But in the meantime, he was made "the Apostle - a teacher and witness to the Risen Christ - to the Gentiles - non-Jewish people.

Instead of luxury and honor and financial gain, Paul made his living as a humble tentmaker, supporting himself while traveling throughout the Middle East and into Europe, preaching the Risen Christ and creating congregations wherever he went. In his last days, he was placed under arrest and during that time wrote many of his Epistles - letters - to the infant congregations, encouraging them to keep the faith.

As one gathers from some of these letters, he was weary from the hardships and work he had been called to do ... and having met the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he was well aware of the peace and joy that awaited him when his work on earth was finished. Like me and Doc after a hard day and longing to ride over the ridge and head for the barn, Paul was ready to go home. But Christ said: "Not yet!"

Many of us are weary in this life, especially as we get older and the aches and pains of the years keep adding up. I listen to the Micahel Card sing Psalm 13: "How Long?" and wonder the same thing as did Paul. But, like Paul, I hear the words "Not yet!" It seems the Boss still has some use for me. I suspect the same is true for you, even if you are bone-tired and ready to "head over the ridge for home."

Not yet, fellow disciple. The Lord will tell us when.

Be blessed and be a blessing.

Brother John

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The Rev. John Bruington is the retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Havre. He now lives in Colorado, but continues to write "Out Our Way." He can be reached for comment or dialogue at [email protected].

 

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