Psalm 119:79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
This sounds like the cry of a pastor to me, particularly when the Japanese says, “return,” rather than simply, “turn.” Every church loses people, and it can be pretty painful. Sometimes, people’s departure can be a relief. However, for the most part there is sadness involved, if there is any sort of real pastoral relationship established. However, the Psalmist is pretty specific as to which people he wants back! Those who fear God and understand His statutes are a benefit to any church, and a blessing to the pastor.
I can certainly identify with this one! Since 1984, when we first started using the name, Shinsei no Sato Christian Church, I have baptized over 50 people and we have had many more associated with the church who were Christians when they got here. However, current Sunday morning attendance is around 10. Many of those people moved away because of work, and some have died, and a few were never really born again, but there are also those who are painful to remember. What I’ve got to remember is that from first to last it’s Christ’s church, and I belong to it rather than it belonging to me. I am to be a faithful disciple myself, and seek to raise up other faithful disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) as witnesses to the power and grace of God, (Acts 1:8) but leave everything in God’s hands. There are many with whom I will probably be reunited only before the throne in heaven, and I’ve got to be at peace with that. In the meantime, praying this prayer with the Psalmist isn’t a bad thing!
Father, thank You for knowing my heart, both when I am following You and when I am off on my own tangent. Help me stay on track, so that nothing will get in the way of what You want to do in and through me for Your glory, whoever else is involved “on the ground” or not. Thank You. Praise God!