It has truly been an eventful two weeks away from the ministry of Berean. I left for an unusual vacation on February 7th and it turned out to be far more unusual than expected. As most of you know, I made it to San Diego and was intending to go to Puerto Vallarta to join my son-in-law on his return from deployment aboard the USS Jarrett, a missile guided frigate. This would have been my first opportunity to board a US Navy vessel at sea.
Things did not go as planned because the day before I was to leave San Diego, I made it as far as Kaiser Hospital and enjoyed the next six days there as my vacation dreamland. And, dreamland is was what it was mostly due to the generous amounts of pain medication. I struggled with the disappointment of not being able to board the ship and sleep in a 2 ½ x 6 ft. coffin rack with dozens of snoring sailors. I was also anxious to fire the weapons and take out a little pastoral frustration without actually having to kill any members! Well,I can chalk that one up as another training experience in this interesting journey we call life.
There were some good things that came out of the experience. I was happy to see my son-in-law, Jason, safely home and to hear about his opportunity to minister to his shipmates. Jason was promoted to Chief Petty Officer just before the deployment and he also served as a volunteer lay leader. He has done this for three deployments and he reported this was the best of the three. He was able to witness and do Bible studies with the men, and there were some real commitments made to the Lord during that time.
I was also able to attend services at Canyon Ridge Baptist Church last Sunday. Chris Chadwick is the pastor there and he did a wonderful job of preaching the word. The enthusiasm of the people over the ministry is infectious and it really lifted my spirits to see how the Lord is working in that church. The church is relatively new and has been blessed with a beautiful facility for worship. For many years, they rented a small space for services and had to set up chairs, the pulpit, and the musical instruments, and then take them all back down again as soon as services were over. They were faithful to do this time after time, year after year, and the reward is the blessing they now have of a great place to grow and minister in San Diego.
In the life of a Christian, the things to live for are not recreation and vacations. On Monday before returning home, I visited the Point Loma Lighthouse and read an interesting fact about the lighthouse keepers that kept the light burning for ships coming into the harbor. The job was 70 hours per week, seven days per week with no vacations. One keeper did this for 20 years. This is how important it was to keep ships safe as they entered the shallow waters of the harbor.
I thought about this and while I have no problems with vacations, we ought never to forget that our primary duty is right here keeping the light of the gospel shining. Membership in the church is a continuous commitment to the Lord’s work. Nothing in life is more important than what we do here. We are redeemed by the blood of Christ not for our salvation alone, but for the salvation of the world. We are God’s lighthouse keepers. If you don’t keep the gospel light shining, who will? How many people will die without knowing Christ if you never tend the flame? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Pastor V. Mark Smith