Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Rear View Mirror

Last week I was blessed to spend time with a young man who is seeking clarity about a call to ministry.  It is always a unique blessing to hear about a journey of faith that is beginning to bloom with excitement and purpose.

I was blessed to hear about his journey and to know that the adventure of faith and service is in the early stages of development.  He described his discovery of faith while taking part in a camp experience as a participant.  His eyes lit up when he talked about the fact that he would now be serving as a counselor and leader at that same camp while others come under his leadership and influence.  His eyes had the sparkle of hope that arrives when the Spirit begins to open the door to new relationships that are centered in mission and ministry.

I also heard about the influence of his family, his church, and his classmates.  He has surrounded himself with believers who are seeking and serving together.  It sounded like a garden of faith that was fertile, well nourished, and excited about growth that will produce fruit.

The conversation motivated me to take a look back at my own journey.  The rear view mirror is a great place to see the activity of God as it unfolds through relationships, experiences, opportunities, and even the painful journeys of life.

I celebrate the freshness of faith and am grateful for the reminder that God can always use that freshness of faith to teach an old dog a new trick!  Thanks Patrick!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The month of April

     For those who know me, you might understand how profoundly I have been impacted over the years by a Trappist monk named Thomas Merton.  His journey of faith was very different from my experience but his graceful (but often bumpy) spiritual life contains far too many connecting points to think it is a coincidence.
     Merton died on December 10, 1968.  He is buried at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky where he spent the final 27 years of his life.  He was only 53 years old but his influence continues on in to eternity.
     The month of April was an adventure for me because I spent the four Fridays of April teaching a course on Merton at the Benet Hill Monastery in the Black Forest outside of Colorado Springs.
     The group was made up of believers, philosophers, historians, and seekers of all sizes and shapes.  Most had some limited knowledge of Merton while several were there just out of curiosity and the opportunity to learn something new.  In the end, they were teachers to me.
     They taught me more about myself than they learned about Merton.  I discovered a passion that has been welling up in my for years.  It is a passion to know God and to understand how the experiences of life match up with the grace of the Almighty to create a discipleship journey.
   For Merton, it was the early death of his parents, his wild college days, his discovery of faith, and his commitment to Christ that was lived out behind the cloistered walls of an ancient abbey.  For me, it was my marriage to Sue, the discovery of Jesus, my first trip to Romania, and my April 1993 Walk to Emmaus experience that provided the chain of grace and developed my life.  Those four elements were key but they were amplified by thirty years of service within the life of the United Methodist Church.  Combined, they have changed me and given be a glimpse of God.
     April was a really good month!  I hope it was good to you as well.