All stories must have an ending in this world. Only in the world to come will we encounter never ending stories. I need to bring my story of this journey to an end not so much because there is nothing more to tell as that there are so many other things to say in the space of this blog. By now my two or three readers are probably even ready for a change.
We are saved by grace through faith. I know this by personal experience. Grace accompanies us in our journey, and as the song says, “Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” God was so gracious to me in presenting me with my life partner, best friend, and wife, Shannon Beth (Frizzell) Wooldridge. She is pure, pretty, patient, persistent, , and perfect for me. I had the privilege when were teenagers of encouraging her to go public with her faith and had the joy of seeing her baptized. She has spent our years together challenging me to bring my private walk in daily life up to the level of my public walk in spiritual leadership. No one knows, except for me and the Lord, how patiently she has worked on my volatile nature to bring me to a stronger, gentler place in my walk with the Lord.
God’s grace is evident in the children he gave us. Our children, like any other children, came into this world with a sinful nature. Like ourselves they have been in a fight to follow Jesus instead of the call of the flesh and the countless voices that seek to lead us astray. I am so proud of all three of them that I have to be careful not to brag too much. Each of them make a great impact for Christ wherever they are. In fact, I don’t think they fully understand just how much influence they truly have. I pray that God will grow their understanding of his gifting of their lives and the many ways they can bring him glory. Thank God for Brooke, Paige, and Chase.
God also graced us with Troy, Paige’s husband, Mike, Brooke’s husband, and Meagan, Chase’s wife. They are wonderful and loving people that we cherish and celebrate.
And then there are the grandchildren. What can I say? I hope I can stick around long enough to see the amazing impact that this crew is capable of having. Each one is unique. Each one is charismatic. (Our opinion) Thank God for Hudson, Graydan, Zoe, Averie, Creed, and Cassidy. We came by Cassiday through Mike’s marriage to Brooke. We see her as one of ours, and recognize her amazing potential. She is presently a senior in high school and is a very good student. She is a proving to be a wonderful employee at her workplace. She also is known at her school for standing up and being counted in matters of faith. She, like all the rest of us, is in a battle. I am confident that the Lord will win out in her life and she will follow Jesus. She made that choice before I knew her, but her days in our clan have allowed us to play a part in encouraging her to grow spiritually. I was particularly impressed with her service as a part of our most recent mission team to Myanmar. We love all of our grandchildren, and as I said, eagerly wait to see whom they will become. So far, the five I mentioned first have not reached their teens. Pray with us as we enter those challenging years in the future.
Finally, I am thankful for God’s amazing grace toward my challenging role as a pastor. He blessed me with a great love for people. He blessed me with a good memory for names and details. He blessed me with a capacity to memorize Scripture and other valuable written works. He blessed me to grow as a witness. He blessed me with courage to overcome my natural tendency to want to not be noticed. I am not so much timid as I am retiring. I could easily be a hermit I think, but the Lord in his grace thrusts me out into the midst of people. I have never sought the spotlight. The spotlight came looking for me. The Lord has shown me grace in the amazing people that I have served as pastor. He has shown me grace in the ministry staff and support staff that I have worked with along the way. He has shown me grace in the amazing people that I have learned from in person and in print. The Lord has shown me grace in the way he has used me even though I never had a mentor who invested greatly in me. He has been my mentor. He has shown me grace in giving me a voice for sermon and song. He graced me with loving parents and grandparents and a loving wife who loves me still though she knows me better than any person on earth. He has graced me with the love of children, grandchildren, and a host of family and friends. He has never given up on me though I have often wondered why. His grace is truly amazing! I hope to make the end of my journey the best part of the trip. I hope to honor the Lord Jesus Christ more greatly as I near the day that I will stand before him.