But a Breath
As I write this, I am now about seven weeks away from stepping down as senior pastor of EFCCL. Ever so gradually, I have been packing boxes to move my church office to my home, cleaning out files that represent 36+ years of accumulated stuff. I am finding “down-sizing” to be a unique challenge, and I am having twinges of what people with the affliction of hoarding must keenly feel.
From time to time over the past few months, people have come to me with expressions such as, “Can’t you stay? Please?” or “What are we going to do without you?” While I can let those questions begin to twist my emotions into prideful knots, down deep inside I know that “it’s time.”
This morning in my quiet time with the Lord, a verse of Scripture confronted me with some harsh truth that put everything into perspective. The prophet who was inspired by God to write it wasn’t concerned about anyone’s feelings. There was no “Midwestern niceness” about it. He just said what needed to be said.
So here it is, and when you read it, take it to heart, but don’t blame me. Isaiah said it— or rather, God said it through him. “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” Our trust as a congregation should not be in me or in any of our other wonderful pastors, nor in the man God will call to us in the future, for that matter. All of us have “but a breath” in our nostrils. What account are we? Our trust as God’s people must rest in Him alone, the One who loves His bride—the Church—with a faithful and everlasting love and who will provide for her and protect her and lead her forward. He alone is absolutely trustworthy. He alone will never disappoint.
The context of that verse, incidentally, is a description of the Day of the Lord when God’s wrath will fall upon a rebellious people who, in their arrogance and pride, have trusted in sinful men rather than Almighty God. The promise is that they will be brought low as the Lord shakes the earth. It is a sobering reminder that “the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” and the “splendor of His majesty” will become known.
One of the troubling things that goes with the territory of being a pastor is to have people occasionally treat you as if you were some sort of an indispensable god. The pastors I connect with all know how horribly untrue that is—that we are mere fallen, yet redeemed, men struggling to faithfully serve our Lord. Isaiah 2:22 makes it real for all of us: “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?”
by Bob Page, Senior Pastor