As I am not able to hide my age any longer, I dye the snow-white hairs underneath my ears. The compliments of, "You haven't changed a bit!" used to be meaningless to me, but now holds credence over my life. In my mind, I feel that I am still the vibrant, ambitiously charged 'young pastor.' However, it's all too clear now as younger pastors join our team that that is no longer the case. It's possible to determine the age range of a pastor depending on what their role is in gatherings. When you are young, you usually perform the Scripture reading. If you are able to build some cachet, you may luck out on preparing a prayer. In your prime, you are asked to preach. Around the time for retirement, you are asked to give encouragements or congratulatory messages. If you are ever asked to perform the prayer of benediction, it's commonly thought of that the end is near. Tonight at my home church, I am to give a congratulatory message. Thank goodness that it's not a prayer of benediction.
During my youth I would feel sorrowful as I would gaze at one of my posters on my wall that pictured a charisma induced, impressive Bruce Lee for the film Enter the Dragon, asking myself in despair, 'Why was I born Korean?' When I came to America, because of my love for basketball, I also had posters of Philadelphia's Dr. J and Michael Jordan, basketball's crown prince.
I grow tiresome hanging up these old posters again so they collect dust in my garage. Family pictures are scattered throughout my living room, but I cannot bring myself to gaze at them as the reality of aging continues to ensue. As dreadful as I am of what I see, I am unable to detach myself from the mirror as my hair continues to fall and the wrinkles continue to form.
Change is inevitable. Physical aging is unstoppable, but the change that occurs from the years of spiritual growth as a born again believer is unstoppable as well. The changes that a believer incurs becomes new every morning. They say that when you receive grace, your face changes. A stern face becomes a warm face. A long, mute face becomes a vibrant one with a smile. The smile is not a wrinkle, but an artistic line. A face before receiving grace is like a dull rock, nay, and conceited. However, if you receive grace, your face exudes light and twinkles. Snobbish becomes shining. The botox that uplifts the snobbish wrinkles left after a lifetime of sin is the tears from repentance and thanksgiving. The tears in worship are perfect to wash away your sins and reveal a face of grace to shine brightly. However, a long face with dried tear ducts is evidence of a mute, dull pride. The message is an iron for our wrinkles. I believe that although I dyed my hair this time, there will be a time forthcoming where I will reflect the radiance of grace off of my snow-white hair and perform a benedictory prayer, full of vigor.
Rev. Bryan Kim is the lead pastor of Bethel Korean Church, located in Irvine, CA.