Proof spring is here
So after writing about winter for the past couple of blogs, it just makes sense that I start talking about spring. Spring has suddenly decided to arrive here, which does not quite make sense to me being that it is February. But here we are. I’m wearing shorts and a polo t-shirt on February 22nd.
This sudden weather change is metaphorical for our life right now. Spring brings with it a flurry of lively activity, and in our season of church gathering, things are really starting to pick up. I do not have the freedom in a blog to write about all that is going on, but I have been tremendously encouraged by a number of important developments over the past few weeks. With these developments come an array of different feelings. I feel excited, encouraged, nervous, and slightly overwhelmed. In some ways things are moving too slowly, but in a growing number of other ways, things are moving too quickly. This flurry of movement means important and stressful decisions; decisions that will affect life for a while.
‘One day at a time’ is a phrase I need to keep in mind right now. One day at a time. One decision at a time. One direction at a time.
Processing big-ticket items one at a time is hard to do, and the temptation is to neglect the most important thing that guides the process: Prayer. Prayer puts the process into perspective. I will type it again (not for your sake, but for mine): prayer puts the process into perspective.
I met with a pastor from a Vineyard church this week. As he was giving me a tour of the church building, it was refreshing hearing how he introduced me to his office. It was something like, “This is my prayer room, and my desk is over there.” In hearing a part of his history, and hearing about decisions he had to make along the way, I was struck by how he seeks to listen to God. When he inquires after God about different important life issues, he waits upon the Lord for an answer.
That process of waiting upon the Lord for how to proceed with these decisions is what I am seeking to do right now. Wait. Upon. The. Lord. This waiting upon the Lord is part of what prayer is all about as I seek His wisdom and insight. I do a lot of talking when I pray, and I am growing in the area of listening.
Big-ticket items are small to Him. Prayer puts the process into perspective, and so after I write this blog, I will pray. I encourage you do the same.
I had every intent to write a blog last week, but I left my computer at home while I attended a professional development retreat. I was planning on writing a blog on my experience at Sonshine Gymnastics on February 1-2. For two days, I had the privilege of participating in Winterfest, an annual competition where recreational gymnasts come and show off their routines to parents, guardians, brothers, sisters, friends, extended family, and 2-4th cousins.
Seven separate competitions meant many hours hanging out with people. It meant seeing lots of new faces and getting to know coaches at a deeper level. That was really cool. Probably the most significant thing for me was being invited to pray before each competition. I was given a prayer to read, but I decided to make it personal. I think it paid off because I can’t recall receiving an ovation after a prayer in a worship service. I think I was 4 for 7 for ovations, which made me doubt how ‘inspirational’ or ‘charismatic’ I was for the other three.
It was an intimidating place to pray. I cannot remember the last time I felt that nervous leading a group in prayer. Knowing that people of other faith backgrounds- whether religious or areligious- were listening created feelings of both discomfort and excitement. Still, I was happy that the kids heard in a prayer that God made them wonderfully and beautifully, and that they are special and that we can be thankful for how amazing they are. Celebrating and thanksgiving was the theme of the prayers.
After the first prayer, news got out that I am a pastor. I also found out who’s who: who goes to church, who golfs with a pastor, who’s Baptist, who’s Catholic, who does not go to church, and who’s Mormon. From what I observed, the prayer gave people the ticket to start talking about faith in ways that I have not yet experienced at Sonshine Gymnastics. I imagine it will not always be like that, but for good or for ill, people know who I am. My prayer now is that the Holy Spirit will continue to use me to bring Christ to this gym. I am learning to be the ambassador, and allow the Holy Spirit to be the Evangelist. That takes the pressure off me and places it on God who is the one who turns hearts.
Although it was an exhausting weekend, it was a great weekend. It was a whole lot more entertaining than the Superbowl. I would rather watch a kid smile proudly after performing a cartwheel then Payton Manning get pounded by Seattle’s defence.
Being visibly Christian in today’s culture is an interesting experience. It opens the doors to conversations, but it also causes others to shut the door. It is not ‘cool’ to be Christian like it is making fun of Christians. Christians are labelled as politically incorrect, out of touch with reality, and behind the times. That’s at least the message I’m hearing from the media. These are dangerous times for Christians, and the challenge is to be present in ways that are vivid, visible and communicate love, gentleness, peace, hospitality and generosity. This is no easy challenge, and it will put us in awkward and nervous situations. For those of you who are Christians, how is your faith vivid, visible, hospitable, and gentle?