“You can tell a man is clever by his answers.
You can tell a man is wise by his questions.”
— Naguib Mahfouz
I was extremely blessed to have Pastor Roger Barkley kick off Day 25 of these 50 Days to 50 Years at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. I had heard of Priscilla’s, and drove by it a million times, but never stopped for coffee—it was definitely worth the trip!
I have been fortunate to have two spiritual fathers in my life. Glenn Kirkpatrick was instrumental as a healer and a covering, who opened the way for Lynn to come into my life. Pastor Roger Barkley has been a spiritual father and shepherd to both me and Lynn for over 8 years.
Roger married us, and was a spiritual shepherd and support for my sister June as she walked through the last days of her battle with cancer. He was the first one there for us when she passed away, and gave the eulogy at her memorial service. Roger walked us through the grief of her loss, and the compounded grief from the loss of jobs, home, finances, and stability.
For many years he has been a touchstone for bedrock faith, resilience, and the gentle, brooding presence of the Holy Spirit.
So it was a delight to catch up with him, and on the happenings at the Congregational Church of Northridge (CCN). Roger asked some very insightful questions (as only a good shepherd can) about Montrose Church (our new church home), and what drew us in and keeps us coming. He honored me further by commending me for embracing and pursuing life on the entrance of this new decade. “You are someone who is open and committed to growth, so this next decade is going to be rich and fulfilling for you,” he said.
Coming from the wisdom of 69 years, that holds great weight. Roger is vibrant and still pursuing life to the fullest, and supporting the spiritual life for an entire congregation—so his words and support are of great worth.
We would have been hard pressed to get through those difficult years had it not been for Pastor Roger and the CCN, and we are thankful that even though we have transitioned to a new church home, we still maintain a friendship with him, and other members of CCN.
Like anything that matters, his resilience was not easily acquired. Roger’s faith journey is a testament to God’s hand, and how he uniquely weaves his plan for every life. Roger lived the first part of his adult life as an atheist before powerfully encountering the living God. The encounter was so profound that he left a high-powered career in sales and pursued the ministry. That alone is amazing; but the subsequent years of pursuing ministry and living life has been peppered with pain and suffering, highs and lows, and health struggles for himself and his loved ones. So when he expresses understanding, compassion, and gives counsel, you know it comes from a deep well of empathy and experience, and not just momentary emotions or spiritual platitudes.
What most blessed me about our time was his prayer before we parted. With the recent tragedies in our nation and around the world, there are many who are mocking those who offer prayers, as though the fact that these evils exist and continue is an indication that prayer is anemic, and makes no impact. Roger, me, Lynn, and many others that I know are a testament to the truth and power resident in prayer to not only mark a life, but cause it to overcome and thrive; not in an instant, but over the long term.
Without prayer, action and activism devolve into human error and destructiveness, and we are seeing this play out in our nation in ways that make me sick at heart. So do your activism and your outcries, but what will truly change these situations are inviting God’s power through prayer. No other way.
What many fail to understand is that the power is not in the mere act of prayer, but to whom the prayers are directed. Through Roger’s spiritual leadership, we have always been pointed to Jesus, and our prayers are directed to the one who came to save and give life, and that to the full. Because we have that fullness, we can be conduits of it to a world that is dying and desperate.