Farewell from Dr. Jim Miller
The fast-flowing river called “Time”
Life comes to us in chapters – as they say. And sometimes you can actually hear a chapter rustling by … the pages of Time turning, the closing of one chapter, the opening of another.
That’s the case for me just now. I may have to wear hearing aids to pick up the voices of children, but I can hear the creaking hinge of Time loud and clear.
And when I look at our three children including David, Courtaney and Jonathan, I can see how fast Time moves.
David: When Diane and I arrived in Tulsa in 1992, our firstborn was three years old. Recently we drove to Fort Worth to celebrate David’s 34th birthday and to tour the amazing Fidelity campus where he works. The river of time has rarely seemed more obvious.
Courtaney: On Saturday, October 7th, Courtaney and her fiancé Austin, will celebrate their wedding in the Sanctuary (don’t forget, you’re invited). They’re entering a whole new chapter of life. Jesus tells us, “For this reason,” he says, “a man shall leave his father and mother (chapter closing) and take to himself a wife (chapter opening).”
Jonathan: A certified flight instructor at Spartan College of Aeronautics (with some 900 hours of flight time), Jonathan is almost ready to close this chapter at Spartan and begin the process of interviewing for work as a commercial pilot. A new chapter, indeed.
As for myself, I saw Time’s silhouette when the doctor told me my biopsy came back positive for prostate cancer. For five months or so, I’ve been undergoing hormone treatment and the side effects have caused intermittent sleep (sometimes on Saturday nights – not good for a preacher!), a bit of foggy thinking and increased my fatigue levels a bit. Radiation begins on September 18.
If you’re going to get cancer, prostate cancer is a good choice, they say. In my case, there’s every reason to be hopeful as we look to the future. But the diagnosis has been helpful in clarifying my sense of call at First Church. In a strange way it’s been a gift to me.
It’s made me more mindful, in John Rutter’s words, “Of the beauty of the earth and the glory of the skies.” It’s deepened my sense of profound gratitude, “For the love which from our birth over and around us lies.”It has spurred me on to sing more robustly, “Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our grateful hymn of praise!”
To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 3, “For every season there is a time … a time to begin and a time to end.” When it comes to serving as your pastor, I believe that that time has come. As is the case with many of the happy chapters of our lives, I actually don’t want this chapter to end. But I know it is right. And I know it is time. Or, to put it another way, I believe we’re in sync with God’s perfect timing.
My last Sunday serving as your pastor will be Reformation Day, Sunday, October 29, 2023.
As this chapter of ministry closes for me, I can hardly wait to see what the Lord has just up the road for First Church.
One thing’s for sure, you’re mightily blessed with a dedicated and faithful Session, as well as a gifted and talented pastoral staff. Hutch, James, Wambugu and Julia bring a multiplicity of gifts, a proven example of working well together, and a faithful devotion to the Lord and His work. To them belongs the keen desire to shepherd the flock in fidelity to the gospel, with humility and a deep love.
“There is every reason to be hopeful as you look ahead, confident of the Lord’s provision.”
– Dr. Jim Miller
The congregation is strong, unified, anchored deeply to the apostolic teaching and the historic witness of the Church in both doctrine and ethics.
The FPC staff works hard and laughs a lot, reflecting the heart of service and faithfulness that blesses all of us.
Let me conclude with this. I love you, First Church. I love you corporately as a community of believers and I love you individually.
For 32 years you’ve welcomed the Millers among you, offering your friendship in every conceivable way, putting up with my flaws and mistakes. You’ve lifted us in your prayers, supported us with your persistent encouragement, met us in times of deep need and embraced us warmly in the very love of Christ.
Thank you for sharing your lives and for offering Diane and me the privilege of a lifetime – to serve with you in this part of the Lord’s vineyard.
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus – to all generations, forever and ever.