Gladys, a pilgrim from the Via de Cristo program, consistently sends a “thought for the day” to those who shared her experience. She cites a Bible passage, then relates the message to life as we know it – an olio of confusion, crazy events, rush, and faith. A few weeks ago, she shared a story of a pastor, a 20+ year veteran of the pulpit and a man who truly loved “giving the perfect sermon” each Sunday and writing, who gradually became a bit of a Walter Matthau “grump”. The church grew with his leadership, but not his own joy – increased staff, myriads of issues, church “business” meant more management and less devotion to his strengths and talent. He stepped down as senior pastor and took the role of teaching pastor, a move many saw as a demotion when each inquired, “Don’t you miss being senior pastor?” Many of us might think that, have thought it in the changes experienced in churches.
This pastor, despite the apparent drop in status, understood God’s definition of “promotion.” Not a move up the ladder, promotion is a move toward your call, a move that allows your talents to be used in the best manner possible. As Gladys noted, “Not every tuba player has the skills to direct the orchestra.” Aligning your ministry efforts with your skills takes some trial and error – and patience. The band of individual talent holds as much import as the leader with the baton.
Karen, a blessed friend to me in our faith community, added more thoughts to my weekly leaf-fall of ideas. “I am even more awe-struck this autumn with the God provided sense (GPS) of fragile monarchs to migrate hundreds of miles south, tiny hummingbirds storing up extra sugar nectar for their long migrations, and the V formations of geese.” Fall truly is a time of “GPS”, a time to sit back, rock a little in a sunshined porch chair, and truly see, see the amazing fluidity and connection of all things “out there” to the grace and love of God. Karen also shared a Ken M. Blomberg article in the WI Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Route entitled– “Up the Creek”. Blomberg gushes about the season upon us and mid-article comments, “This is the moment to explore the countryside to view its full glory. Time is of the essence as the winds of the season will eventually send the foliage to the forest floor” (35). For me, these thinks from two different authors and a loved friend, really focused an important part of my faith.
I must, by intent, take time to notice what God does every day of my life, every moment of my walk-don’t-run musing. In all the strife, we still live in a windstorm of colors, in a breathtaking creation that continues despite the human forces that challenge it. Karen mentioned to me a Billy Graham moment when he set his Bible on a rock and proclaimed symbolically, “Believe it or not.” For me, this book is truth, the Holy Spirit inspired words put on the page by Holy men of God. Not a collection of stories, anecdotes, concept-defining examples. A tome of truth, God’s truth and the events that demonstrate His power and His gracious love. This rock cannot and should not be chiseled and in any way cracked with alteration, in any way re-formed to be more attractive in language and more lenient in “believe it or not.” To me, a lot of big, “neon” churches have big crowds because they offer what people want to hear at the end of a week – not necessarily what they NEED to hear. The foundation of faith, the trial and error of a group of disciples and the incredible truth in Biblical events and miracles – on that we can grow solidly, not artificially.
I trust my journey, our journey, will be true promotion – finding the fit in God’s ministry and buttressing the uncracked foundation that the Bible is, in all its truth, the Word of God. Our GPS.
submitted by Dave Smith