Greetings of Deep Appreciation for the love and acknowledgment of our 40 Years spent with the wonderful people of Heritage Fellowship,
Through the month of October, I feel more and more like a pancake covered with Maple Syrup every week. The other day I began to thank God for the blessing we have had each week and the goodness of the Lord to us through the years. To be honest with you words of love and appreciation did not cease while reflecting on the considerations and love that has been shown to GayNell and I as we have served you and the extended families of Heritage over time.
I remember Red Foley singing a verse set to music by an unknown author:
Time has made a change in the old home place;
Time has made a change in each smiling face,
and I know my friends can plainly see
Time has made a change in me.
The pictures and stories told over the past three weeks remind us of the change. There is however, something that people cannot see taking place in me, Paul the apostle said it this way;
“For even though our outer person gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day.”
Of course, you know the greatest change in my life was when Christ saved me at 19 years of age. That was the change that changed everything it was then, the course of my life turned toward the purpose of God. I have preached that the word for the day is not, DESTINY but PROVIDENCE. Providence is the hand of God in the glove of a man or woman through which God fulfills His purpose and will. Together as a church, we have corporately followed the path that leads to peace and together we have enjoyed not just the flavor of the day in what is called church life but we have enjoyed the favor of God and that is what we were made for. Looking back, I can truthfully say that our joy has glorified Jesus. Augustine who admittedly liked the Pleasure of sin said of his conversion to Christ, “You came the fountain of all sweetness, my chief and sovereign joy and drove all of the foolishness out of me.” If you ask me what my feelings have been while serving God at my Heritage post since 1981, let me sum it up with the words of Eric Little in his story made into a movie, Chariots of Fire. “When I run, I can feel His pleasure.” What you may not know is that Eric Little went on to become a missionary and died as a martyr in China.
Each time I have stood before you and opened the Word of God, I have been keenly aware that the pulpit was not an auction podium or a performance stage but ‘God’s Table’ for hungry souls and my attempt was to study myself full and pray myself empty. I can say with the apostle Paul, “I have been commissioned to preach the wonderful news of the glory of the exalted God,
1 Timothy 1:11.” This verse has been the driving force of my life for the last 60 years in ministry of which we have had the privilege of spending the last 40 with you. Actually, I have spent exactly half of my life with you.
GayNell and I want to thank you a thousand times over for the way that you have taken us into your lives and confidences as a pastor. There was an old preacher that had a verse for everything that happened to him. He was preaching in a tent meeting one night when a June bug flew into his mouth and he swallowed it. Without missing a beat, he said of the June bug, “I was a stranger and you took me in.”
We believe in you,
Cleddie and GayNell Keith