These are hill top times. Living in the deep privilege of friendship, some of which go back 30 years. Added to these wondrous memories, we were given a hill to die on, a reason to lay our lives down, counting for Jesus on many continents around the world. I do sit tenderly sometimes and reflect what it would have been like if we had not bought into "the discipling of the nations".If we had all remained in the countries of our birth, leading the churches that we planted all those years ago. Sitting at the same restaurants, with the same friends, in the same city, leading the same churches. We could have been studs I quess. With large churches, with long local track records, without cultural and contextual challenges. Not facing the hurdles of being misunderstood nor at times feeling like aliens, foreigners in another land.
Those reflection times are brief. Of course I do miss those realities. However, God was so kind to us. We were given a hill to die on, a land to fight for even though it was not the land of our birth. I love Jesus. I love his wonderful presence and the kindness of his calling. I love my wife who has journeyed with me for 30 years, through many celebratory encounters as well as traumatic times of deep pain and travail that no words can describe. I love my kids. The three of them have loved me because of their ability to forgive more than because of my ability to lead. Added to them have been the 'sons and daughters' who have no blood tie to me but have found in me a father who could and would empower them on their journey of faith and obedience - quite extraordinary that they trusted their lives in my hands. I love the 2 churches that we have led. It is truly amazing that folks would follow when there are so many good leaders and outstanding churches to choose from.
I love being born in South Africa. Walking through the boiling pot, the turbulence of the end of the apartheid years leading in such traumatic times taught me more than a seminary or college ever could. Now I live in the USA. It was not love at first sight. In some ways it has been like marriage which is best described as 'a love driven exploration of incompatibility'. God brought our lives together to collide in the great providence of the ages. He broke my heart as I fell in love with his American bride.
For 3 decades now, I have found a hill to die on. The meaning of my life has been found in Genesis 1. From the awe of a creator/artist God to the call to 'increase in number, multiply, fill the earth, subdue... have dominion'. Having sons and daughters, then fashioning them to become fathers and mothers, releasing them to live their own journey of faith - empowering them to 'fill the earth.... with his glory' has been my hill. I love watching them fly. I love watching them overtake me - counting even more for Jesus that I ever did. I love seeing them get the nations in their eyes - living for this Jesus more than for themselves. I love handing on the baton of leadership to them. I love being a boot camp where Jesus sends the raw recruits and them leaving at the end of their training as 'an officer and a gentlemen'. I love seeing them fall in love with his bride and then weep as I see the price tag it carries on their fresh and naive shoulders.
If that is all I do, I would count my life, a life worth living, a gift from my heavenly Father. All he ever asked of me was "Will you be a father in my house?". I hope I have been a good one.