“Life doesn’t start when you’re twenty, or when you’re forty. Life starts at Calvary. And that’s where fruitful service begins as well.”
I’m still bothered trying to figure out exactly how much of this really happened and how much is fiction (or at least heavily embellished), especially as it’s presented/marketed in the form of a factual account. But you don’t need to obsess nearly as much about it. Just enjoy the story, accept the more fantastic/literary effects for what they are, and soak in the wisdom offered throughout.
Jose Luis Navajo. Mondays with My Old Pastor. 240p., $15.99, Thomas Nelson.
I don’t want to give away the story line here, so suffice to say for now: A quickly burning-out middle-aged pastor realizes he needs help, and quickly. He seeks out the advice of his former pastor, and they ultimately decide to meet each Monday over the course of a few months. Each meeting between the two pastors, then, becomes a self-contained lesson/chapter, addressing such matters as family, forgiveness, and the importance of placing ourselves fully before God. Ultimately, it all (literally) spells out the message: Everything is by grace.
Each Monday is peppered with at least one story illustrating the older pastor’s teachings for that week, and they’re well chosen. Most appear to be (at least recent) Spanish folk tales, but we’re also treated to Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree at one point as well.
If all this sounds a bit contrived, well, it kind of is. But again, it only trips up overly analytical people like myself. Those who just like a good story will roll with all this just fine, because it is told well. The interaction between the two pastors is pretty believable—and the struggles of the “younger” pastor certainly are. The advice offered by the older pastor is stuff we can all use, especially if we’re not in a good place in our ministry right now:
“Are you really thinking of abandoning the seed you planted with excitement and hope? Will you leave the plow to which you fastened your life to be stuck in the middle of an abandoned field? Plant your feet solidly on the ground… your ground. Grab onto the plow firmly… your plow. Look straight ahead and continue planting because spring is drawing near.”
All in all, Mondays with My Old Pastor is an encouragement to all of us to keep walking out our calling. So before summer’s completely over, give the left side of your brain a break and receive the gentle wisdom being offered here.