Monday, August 25, 2014


What we all inevitably experience in our summit years has been described as passing the baton in a relay race, or passing the torch, or throwing our mantle on someone. 
 The baton may represent my life, my vision, my responsibility, my ministry, information and education I've been blessed to receive, and the investment of others in me. My stance should be the same in each case: I'm expected to willingly pass it on when the time comes.

I shouldn't drop the baton before the next runner reaches for it; I shouldn't hug it selfishly to myself and refuse to give it up; I shouldn't forget that it was passed on to me so I could eventually hand it off to others. Better to willingly throw my mantle on a worthy and prepared successor, as Elijah did for Elisha, than to wait until the Lord removes me from my place in life, and I go kicking and screaming off center stage.

A successful transition requires my mentoring others to take over, investing myself into “Timothys” as Saint Paul did, and as young Timothy had experienced through the example of his mother and grandmother. It isn't done at the last minute but over a period of time as I pour myself, my vision, my prayer, my discipling into another person. It is accomplished through transparent life demonstration not primarily by formal preaching or instruction on how to hold batons correctly. It implies allowing the next runner to carry the baton in his unique way, according to God's gifts to him. It probably won't be a clone of my way. I am to be a Barnabas encourager motivating him to do his best.

That changeover doesn't come easily but it comes inevitably for those of us living in our summit years. It is especially difficult when someone else takes over and we see everything obviously going along so well without us. The time may come when we are laid aside by illness, retirement, physical or mental weakness or inability, or otherwise stepping out of the picture. Somehow we don't expect the sun to shine as brightly or the days to go as well. Secretly, we may not want others to manage with such competence without our oversight. How can they walk so well in our shoes as soon as we take them off?

I may be accustomed to view myself as the center of my particular universe, the hub of our family's wheel, the indispensable one at work, or in a particular ministry, or at church. Others have flattered me by reinforcing that essential image. They tell me, “I don't know how we could ever do without you.” Famous last words, not to be believed! 
I am in danger if I try to wear permanently a self-important mask of pride. I naturally thrive on adulation, but Scripture cautions me not to hold an exaggerated opinion of myself. Puffiness indicates both a physical and spiritual unhealthy condition. Sitting on the sidelines, as I must increasingly do in my summit season, shouldn't take away my self-esteem. It should simply cut it down to normal size.

God has ways of showing me that I can't be the leading player forever. During recent family wedding preparations, I was ushered to a comfy chair, given a cup of tea, and commanded, “Sit! Relax!” All with good intentions to relieve me of heavy responsibilities while the younger crowd bustled around doing things that I would have relished doing in past years. A vivid lesson in bench warming as I happily watched others wearing my mantle as a work apron! 

I should realistically view myself as dispensable. The places I occupied so competently seem to close up behind me when filled by others. Scripture says it takes everyone to make the Body of Christ complete. We have each been given a different role and gifts. Moreover, it will always be another person's turn. If people continue to depend totally on me in any aspect of life, it may stunt their emotional, mental, and surely spiritual growth and effectiveness for God. 

We are all frail, mortal, and terminal in the sense of not being able to play any role in life permanently. Each of us is God's special instrument or channel but only for a time. I have spent a lifetime fulfilling the destiny and purpose God has for my life. I am unique and important to the Lord, but not indispensable.

With joy I should throw my mantle upon others and be a cheer leader for the ones whom God designates should wear it. In the spirit of Elijah, I should pray that the next runner should, like Elisha, receive a double portion of God's grace and power.


Who am I to think that I'm the hub
around which the world turns
and all spokes lead to me?

God is not obliged to work
through my earthen vessel,
my created lump of clay,
with numbered days and faltering ways.

Without me, Lord, life would go right on,
The world would still turn,
and You could run the universe.
Without me, Lord, those who lean on my arm
could walk by themselves,
and You'd keep them from harm.
Yet I am amazed that You stoop to choose
and sovereignly use
this human trifle that I am
as an instrument to do Your will!

Lord, cause me to understand
my dispensability
my frailty
my mortality
and in humility
still offer You my availability.

No comments: