Rev. Cliff WarnerCliffNotes

I was recently asked to imagine my retirement party. Retirement? . . . I haven’t given it much thought. Well, here’s what I was asked to do: “imagine what you might want someone to say at your retirement party about your intimacy with God.” Four phrases that summarize the core of my devotion came immediately to mind: Jesus Christ, the cross, Sabbath and God’s Word. But then this image came to mind, which I’ll share with you.

Here’s what I wrote: “I want to be a man who knows God in the way that a farmer knows his land, having worked on it and with it for many years. It’s a cultivated appreciation for the magnificent uniqueness of that plot of earth. It’s a knowledge and love that comes from farming through both rain and drought, respecting its yields and its limits, walking its edges and learning how it behaves according to the seasons. Sometimes the harvest is bountiful; sometimes the farmer is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Gratification is not immediate, but the farmer can think of no more satisfying life than the one he leads on the land he loves. This love for the land is born of wrestling with it, beholding its beauty, depending on its yield for life and nourishment, enjoying the pleasure of its fruit, and sometimes walking away with a hip out of its socket like Jacob, who wrestled with the Lord all through the night. After that night, the Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means ‘One Who Wrestles with God.'”

That’s real relationship with a real God over the long haul. That’s how I hope that someone would describe my relationship with Jesus someday. As the apostle Paul wrote: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. I am not all that I hope to be, but . . . maybe by the time I retire.

Still in active ministry,