When All’s Said and Done

Date Posted: 
Monday, September 21, 2015

By John Kapteyn

Reflections on my journey as a follower of Christ

As I near my retirement as the executive secretary of the Regional Synod of Canada, I often reflect on my work, my calling as a minister, and my life as a follower of Christ.

It was an early winter morning and it was my first day in my new role as executive secretary. It was very early, dark, and cold, and the snow was falling as I drove to Buffalo to catch a flight to Florida to attend a church planting meeting. I should have been elated to escape the cold winter for a few days, but instead I felt alone and afraid as I anticipated the future—challenging and unknown, as hard to see as the road before me.

What had I done? I had left my church and was facing a new challenge. As I felt a growing despondency, I played a CD to break the silence, and Robin Mark sang these words:

When it’s all been said and done,
There is just one thing that matters:
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

When it’s all been said and done,
All my treasures will mean nothing,
Only what I have done,
For love’s rewards
Will stand the test of time.

As tears rolled down my cheeks, I heard God say that all that mattered was to live for him. It was all that counted in the long run.

Now, nearly nine years later, I am nearing the end of that journey. My wife, Margaret, and I have moved back into our hometown after 30 years away, living in a condo townhome surrounded by mostly older neighbours, and the question has returned. Did I live my life for you? Was my ministry fruitful and God-honouring? What about my life?

My answer to that question changes with the mood I am in or how my day is going. But I have come to a conclusion. The answer is “yes and no.” In many ways I have sought to honour God and I have seen him at work in me and through me in many ways and places. But I have also seen times when fear, pride, and other selfish factors took precedence over living my life for God.

I have regrets but I rejoice in the ways God has used a broken vessel like me and at the people he has brought into my life along this journey.

But the journey is not complete.

I am increasingly aware of how God has shaped Margaret and me for meeting new friends, who are often not Christ-followers, and for building relationships with them. Whether this is in a local coffee shop, on a vacation, or in our neighbourhood, God calls me and he calls each of us to not just look back at what has been, but to take each day he has given us to live for him. Each night, during our evening prayers, we should ask him and ourselves, “Did I live my life for you?” That is all that really matters.

I thank God for all he is, for what he has done, and for what he will do in the days and years ahead.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

John Kapteyn is executive secretary for the Regional Synod of Canada. He plans to retire in February 2016. 

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