There are many times that being busy is simply exhausting. This past week was not one of those times for me. In fact, even though I was busy every night, it was one of the most energizing and refreshing weeks I have had in a long time. It started on Monday when I had the privilege of attending the evening banquet for the Munce Group’s Christian Products Expo. I was not really supposed to be at the banquet as my plan had been to drive home from the expo in the evening and return the next morning. However, with impending snow and ice coming overnight, I decided to stay overnight, and I am really glad I did. I got to hear Michael Card play music from his new album and hear Ann Graham Lotz (the daughter of Billy Graham) speak passionately about living here on earth with a clear view of heaven in mind, and I also got to see the Courageous movie before its release this fall. These were all wonderful, but it was the interactions around the dinner table that night and the reminiscing about God’s faithfulness with long-time Christian retailers that truly did my soul good.
On Tuesday I got home in time to attend a men’s mentoring group training session that my church holds once a month through each spring and fall. This time we focused on peacemaking and what a critical role we as men play in being peacemakers, not peace-fakers. At the end of the teaching time we normally break up into small groups with the guys we have been meeting with over the past year. The two guys in my group were not there, so I got to meet with two other men who were also “solo” that night. Even though we had not met before, God knit our hearts together, and we had a great time of prayer.
On Wednesday night I attended a parent/youth leaders’ night at our church hosted by the faithful folks who are involved with Jr. and Sr. High youth ministry in our church. It was so evident how much these people love and appreciate the kids they work with (including my two guys) and that they longed for more parental engagement with the youth program. We watched excerpts about the spiritual life of teenagers from a very insightful DVD called Soul Searching. I was deeply convicted of my own “drop off and pick up” mentality and the need for more interaction with the people who are influencing my kids. Something as simple as inviting them over for dinner with our family would probably make a good start. Besides, I am always up for eating a good meal with people from church.
On Thursday I finished a twelve-week course called The Truth Project that was created by Focus on the Family. This excellent Christian Worldview DVD series was led in a small-group format by one of the couples here in the CLC ministry. It was great to interact with CLCers and with people from our sister ministry, WEC International, every Thursday night in this engaging and informal way. I learned a lot about my own preconceived notions and was reminded of the beauty of God’s Word. The series powerfully weaved video of Ravi Zacharias and RC Sproul alongside interview clips from non-believers to bring a reality to bear in a most effective way. The small-group format allowed for discussion and reflection after each week’s DVD had been watched. I hope many other people can experience this powerful teaching series.
On Friday I celebrated my birthday at one of my favorite places: Shady Maple Smorgasbord in Lancaster County. Shady Maple gives anyone a meal for free on his or her birthday—as long as the birthday person brings someone else along to eat. Deb and the boys and I had a great time together sampling the incredibly diverse buffet. What a blessing my family is to me! The food, also, was certainly a reminder of the bounty that we Americans take for granted. Though our travel on the way there included going through snow blowing across the road from the Lancaster farm fields and our drive on the way back included slipping on black ice, which was traumatizing for me as the driver, I am really glad we made the trek. I look forward to doing it again next year.
All in all, this was one of those weeks in which I understood once again why the Scriptures instruct us not to forsake gathering together. We need each other, especially in times of change and challenge—which is nearly every day for me. I can only imagine what this next week holds in store, but I am sure it will be easier to deal with as I enjoy the fellowship and admonition of God’s people once again.