The Genoa United Methodist Church is a place of great blessing. You know the feeling! For all of us there are places that continue to speak to our souls and remind us of the things that flow through our past experience. Walking up the steps into the sanctuary in Genoa does that for me every time.
At the same time, we all know that the physical location is really not the 'church' it is just a building. The real church is the people who choose to live by faith. I was personally blessed to meet godly people who became models of ministry to me in the early days of my Christian life.
It all started with Ed. It was a Sunday morning. Everyone was gathered. Folks were sitting in their regular places. Sue and I were just moving off the 'guest-in-church' list. (I could tell because Georgia asked me to dry dishes following a potluck. It was a sure sign that we were quickly moving from guest to part-of-the-team status.) JL preached about the Holy Spirit. I was moved. The benediction arrived and everyone made their way downstairs for coffee and some of Norma's cookies.
I remember looking around to see if anyone was watching as I quietly went back upstairs and slipped into the sanctuary. I didn't really know what I was doing but I thought it would be good to pray. I knelt at the altar rail and said something like..."Lord, if you will have me, and I understand if you say no thanks, but if you will have me...I am yours." In a moment, I literally felt the weight of the past years shift from me to the heart of God. I was warmed with joy and I could feel myself smiling.
Suddenly, I felt a huge hand on my shoulder. I thought God must be snatching me off to heaven or getting ready to rough me up a bit. I looked up and saw Ed. He somehow saw me climbing the stairs so he quietly followed. He came to pray with me and for me. I think it was the first prayer anyone ever prayed over me. It was a blessing that continues to this day.
From that moment forward, life has been about walking by faith. The first step was to discern the first step! What in the world were we going to do with a gift from God that was so powerful it would change our lives forever. How should we serve, what will we do. We only knew one thing for sure, the gift of forgiveness and the power of salvation was so significant we would not be content with just living it our week by week as a part of the chruch. We needed to serve and we needed to find our how and where.
Thanks be to God, we had gracious guides for our early discipleship journey! Suddenly, faith walking became a great adventure. It continues to be an adventure today.