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To have and to have not the keys
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Light the Fire Again

By Pastor Mike Wilkins


The Long Run... Metaphorically speaking, my experience as the pastor of West London Alliance Church has been a long run, which is fine with me. I have been a long-distance runner for even more years than I've been a pastor. And the thing is, my long run as pastor has turned out to be one of my greatest privileges. And it's been interesting! All these years into it, I reflect on life as I have seen it lived by all kinds of people, and this church as I've seen it change in all kinds of ways. And sometimes I think I have a few things figured out. This is my opportunity to do some explaining and so to provide Christian Life in London readers something of an introduction to my side of West London church life. For what it's worth, here is some of what I have come to think in the long run.

To have and to have not the keys


"You have the keys. You drive." With those six words, I concluded my most recent blog post, in which I revealed the sobering results of my latest medical report and my new (and lowest ever) probability of survival. The context of those six words was new and unique to me, but the words themselves were not. It's what Deb and I have often said to one another as we approached our vehicle with somewhere to drive. And it's what my father would sometimes say to me once I had become the delighted owner of an actual Driver's License. And it's what my father never said to me or to my siblings when we were children. In those days, he (or my mother) was always the driver. And we were always the unlicensed children in the backseat, for better or for worse. And ours was the choice to go along for the drive peacefully or unwisely to act up.

These many years later, here I am, going for another sort of drive. Two months after the latest (and not greatest) news of the end of my cancer’s remission and of the (more-or-less) imminent end of my life in this world, I have no additional news of any sort to report. So I continue to say, from time to time, to the One who calls himself "the first and the last and the living one," those same six words. "You have the keys. You drive." And as I maintain my place in the backseat, looking out the window at the glories of a southwestern Ontario springtime and feeling the various motions of the car that is getting me where I am going, I think about the seating arrangements by which my "everlasting Father" does the driving and I don't.

Surely, it is a good thing that he is the one driving. He not only has the keys, but he owns the car, and he knows the roads and he's a good driver. And he is good and kind to me, and to his other passengers. He doesn't seem to mind us asking questions, although I have noticed that he doesn't answer them all. At any point of the trip, he'll tell us where we are now - and he always has ideas about what we might do to occupy the time and to stay busy and happy in the backseat. But he doesn't answer when we ask him, "Are we there yet?" All he ever says about that is that we'll know when we get there.

So here I am, going for a certain sort of drive, and quite at peace to be a backseat passenger - and quite determined not to be a backseat driver. It continues to be an interesting trip. But when I tire of looking out the window, I go back to the book I was given well before this drive began. It's loaded with lots of relevant, helpful, and interesting information - and interesting stories about people who have travelled to the same place I am going, some who rode along happily and quietly, and some who complicated things for themselves (and others) by choosing instead to act up. One of my favourite happy passengers is the apostle Paul, who wrote, towards the end of his drive, "I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." (2 Timothy 1:12 ESV)