I’m in the great city of Hollister, MO, for a few days. Hollister is just south of Branson and I’m actually on the campus of College of the Ozarks for a clergy leadership conference. We are in session pretty much all day – 8 am to 9 pm – with breaks for meals and a few short breaks here and there. It is long but very good. Right now I’m in the computer lab with a bunch of college students who are busy with papers and such. How glad I am not to be them!!!
Tonight’s session was wonderful and so inspiring. When I was here in October, I was really struggling with life and ministry and balancing it all. I’m stronger now and have healed from some things and so it is interesting to come back to this place and these individuals and remember those feelings when I was here last. It is a reminder of how much life changes in a short period of time but it only seems short on the backside, not the frontside. Perspective . . . it makes such a difference in life.
Much of our conversation here is exciting and affirming for me in my call to the ministry. It affirms my calling and my passion for ministry. Getting away from life to remember and renew these things is important – for everyone. Whether renewing a love for a careeer or a love for a spouse or whatever. Sometimes we need to step out from life to really appreciate where we are at and what we have and to gain wisdom on where we want to go next.
I was blessed today from some readings in John 14, 15 and 16 as I reflected on the Friend that came to be with us after Jesus ascended to Heaven. Our Friend, the Spirit of Truth – the Holy Spirit – who was sent to be with us, to assure us that we are not orphaned, to make plain to us and remind us what God has said, to expose to all the sin of our lives . . the Advocate, our Friend who will always be with us. What encouraging words to read … we are not alone. We have the living Spirit of Christ with us in this world. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of Christ in the world. And the Spirit invites us to be a part of that presence as well. What a humbling and amazing dance to be invited to. In the midst of life, we things overwhelm and when we feel alone, it is good to remember John 14 – we are not alone. Our great Friend will also be with us and will guide us in the ways of God. How thankful I am for that promise.
Tonight in our session, one of the questions that was asked of us was "Where did we see God this past week?" For me, I saw God . . .
… in my living room on Monday night with a friend who needs God’s peace to reappear in her life.
… in my basement on Tuesday night with the youth gathered for c-group.
… on Thursday afternoon as I chased my nephew around the mall. 🙂
… on Thursday afternoon as I listened to one of my youth share about her journey of faith;
… on Thursday night with CG friends playing games together, getting to know one another and simply enjoying each other company.
… on Friday night as I was raking leaves in the dark and praying through with God some things in my life I just don’t understand … but in the end, being reassured that God heard me and will do what is best for me.
… on Saturday morning as we celebrated the upcoming arrival of a new life and a new hope for my friends, Cari and Mike.
… on Saturday night as CG members worshipped together at MOSAIC, shared reflections on our common failures to trust God, and enjoyed some friendship time.
… on Sunday morning sitting with a row of CG family that have found their way to FBC.
… on Sunday afternoon as I played with my handsome nephew, Blake, and enjoyed time with my beloved family.
I see God in relationships. You see – Love is at the heart of relationships. And God is love. And I learned in Algebra in 9th grade that if A + B = C, then . . . (yes! Finally – Algebra comes in handy…. 🙂
Peace and LOVE to each of you –