“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” – I Corinthians 9:24
By the providence and grace of God, our Lord saw fit to allow my path to cross paths with a godly man by the name of Gary Roach, and it was a great honor to be his pastor for the last four years of his life. Gary was passionate about his pursuit of God, and this was evident in every aspect of his life. He was a man that genuinely lived out his faith. Some people talk about following Christ, others speak louder simply by living out their faith. In this week’s Garland of Grace, I would like to share a few things that Gary taught me about Life.
To begin with, Gary did not compartmentalize his life as so many people attempt to do. He did not have his family life in one pocket of his heart, his business life in another part of his heart, and then his church life in another section of his heart. To the contrary; his love for God penetrated every part of his life, and and did so in such a way that his priority to serve God was evident to all, and obvious in every area of his life. Whether serving in the capacity of Sunday school director, serving on a committee at the church, or even handling business affairs with the church building committee; whether at the rodeo, even spending time with his family, he lived out his faith as a praise song to the Lord. We can learn much from this approach to the Christian life; for it is a dangerous thing to try to compartmentalize the Christian faith, and feel that your relationship with God must stay in the confines of only the “religious” pocket of your life. Instead, we must do as Gary did and see our faith in God as something so life changing, that it permeates everything about us. He was a man that only saw an audience of one. He was not on stage for the audience of the world. He was living out his life to please the only one that matters; the Lord Jesus Christ.
The second thing that I learned from Gary is that there is a job to be completed. I do not remember his exact words in one particular conversation, but we were talking about the building program of Grace Baptist. He stressed to me what an honor it was to be a part of such a great project for God. Throughout his life, he had lived in many different communities and had been a part of many different churches. And no matter where God placed him, he saw his ministry within the local church as a task to be fulfilled. He saw the Grace Baptist church start as a project God had blessed all of us with, and He personally felt a strong calling to stay the course. There was no doubt that he knew that this was where God had placed him, and that God had done so for a purpose. Gary was right. God has a specific plan for Grace Baptist Church, and every member is uniquely designed for this great task. Gary displayed great leadership skills, and this was demonstrated in the first three years of our existence as a church. Gary taught all of us to see the things placed before us by God as projects in service to Him. No matter where God has placed us, we must accomplish the task at hand, and do so faithfully. This is how my family sees Grace Baptist as well. We feel God has called us to see our church graduate from its infancy stage and see our building completed on the property. After that point, who knows? God might call me on to another ministry or he might ask me to stay at Grace even longer. Whatever our time frame at Grace might be, it is certainly an honor to be the inaugural pastor of this great church. But I will always see wherever the Lord places me as a calling and a task to be fulfilled, just as Gary did. We must all remember that our work on earth is never complete until our Master calls us home. But until then, we must work till Jesus comes.
Thirdly, Gary stressed to me the value of patience. Rome was not conquered in a day, and a church start does not blossom overnight. God has called Grace Baptist to be an oak of righteousness, not an overnight mushroom that shrivels. Yet it seems as if some want the church start completed overnight, and have their cake as a side dish. But impatience is always a festering poison that eats away at a congregation of believers. This truth about patience was not necessarily something I had to learn from Gary; for God has been instilling a heart of patience within me for years. But Gary’s attitude and approach served as an encouragement to me, and helped confirm my pursuit of patience.
Gary was a blessing to my life, and I am sure he was to you as well. Continue to pray for his precious wife Laurine and his entire family during this season of transition. We say goodbye, but only for a time; for we will be reunited with our dear friend Gary in heaven.