Quite recently, my wife, Helen, and I have felt like we are riding in a kayak built for two.
It's like we're riding along on the lake and a persistent current takes gentle control pulling us into a stronger than normal stream.
We look at each other like, "What's happening now?" We could paddle our way out of this but give each other that knowing look that says, "Ut oh! Is God taking us on another adventure?" So we ride along and end up on an Island where the Guide says: "Look around. Welcome to exploring the possibility of serving part time in pulpit supply ministry for a season. By the way, the church is not United Methodist." Our initial response, "God, you've got to be kidding!" There are way too many examples of how I said, "No Way!" to write about now. The Creator of all pilgrimages persevered saying, "Yes, I want you to at least explore the possibility."
For instance, Helen has been having a whole lot of reoccurring dreams about sharing a season of ministry with a congregation and she keeps dreaming we said, "No, thank you!" She woke up a few days in a row wondering, "Why do I feel like I just let God down? Oh... It was just a dream, but for some reason it feels like more than just a dream." To top it off, I kept having persistent thoughts sensing the Holy Spirit saying something like: "Bart, I've equipped you to preach, lead worship, and teach and I want you do that now." I'm like, "God this doesn't make any sense. I'm retired! Well sort of retired... you know what I mean???"
So we worshipped with the congregation who asked me if I might be interested in serving with them for a season. We worshipped with them yesterday, October twenty-third. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot and started meeting the people we knew God was up to something.
Truth be known, if Helen wasn't in the boat with me on this, I would never have gone along for the ride. I must admit that all of this is a bit disorienting. Helen and I keep repeating out loud and in our minds a phrase our thirty-one month old grandson, Daniel, often says to me, "Pa Bart, what are you doing?"
Indeed, when God takes us on Holy Spirit led rides, a part of us cries out, "What are we doing? We have plenty of work to do. We don't need any more!" Then we sense God responding, "Remember, I bless you to be a blessing! By sharing my blessings, you will be blessed. Others will be blessed. The world needs blessing! You never retire from being a blessing!" 'Yea," older persons sometimes respond, "but we've worked hard over the years and we are ready for a rest!" God responds, "Yes, resting is good. I even rested on the seventh day of creation. Resting is part of creation. Bart, you're pretty well rested... I have a season of exciting work for you to do." "Yes Lord, but I just finished the lake ministry a few weeks ago. I'm working on my L.L.C. I'm coaching and doing some consulting work not to mention other projects." I could almost hear God responding, "Don't you think I know all that? This season of work is very important. it will lead to more adventures. One day you'll look back and see more clearly. Enjoy the ride. And remember... I often work through older, ("Hey God, watch that reference, I only turned 63 a couple of months ago,"); and more seasoned people to bring about my kingdom come, my will be done on earth as it is in heaven. No disciple of Christ ever retires from following Jesus!"
"Remember what you said to me many years ago?" "Yes, Jesus, I know." I said, "I will be who you create me to be. I will go where you want me to go,"
Rejoice followers of Jesus! God sends us on explorations and pilgrimages of discovery!
It makes little difference our ages and our plans. Following God's plan is a whole lot more fulfilling and exciting than the ones we make.
As we follow God's plan, we make more friends and we help each other become more Christlike. We step out of our comfort zones and God ministers through us to bring about life changing, world transforming agape.
We change. Churches change. Communities change. The world as we know it changes too.
A little while ago, we received a message from the chairperson of the consistory of Mount Tabor United Church of Christ. They voted unanimously to invite me to serve as part time interim minister. I'll be responsible for leading worship and preaching most Sundays through the end of the year "and maybe a few weeks after that." Their gathering place is only 30 minutes from Zooland Campground where we stay so Helen has a brief commute to her work as Faith Health Navigator with Randolph Health in Asheboro.
The church's gathering place is located on East Holly Grove Road in Lexington, North Carolina.
Please pray for us and especially Mount Tabor United Church of Christ!
Although I'm excited and feel a lot of energy around this, in so many ways, Helen and I feel like we've lost our minds. I guess in a sense we have. God calls us and empowers us to put on the mind of Christ. The apostle Paul said it best, "Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." (Philippians 2:4-5).
And by the way, for all our summer High Rock Lake Ministry friends, I let the consistory of Mount Tabor United Church of Christ know Helen and I have already made the commitment to serve once again with High Rock Lake Ministry Memorial Day through Labor Day of 2023.
We pray and believe God will send Mount Tabor a full time pastor before then.
In the mean time, please share with me and others the ways God is taking you on journeys you never anticipated before hand.
All you did was say: "Here I am, Lord!"
(The picture below is a picture from a few years back when Helen and I went on another adventure. That one took us on an adventure to Lake Tahoe.)