At one point I had thought this was going to be a pretty quiet weekend, or at least a quiet Saturday. Ha! It goes back, I guess, to the old saw that the best laid plans of mice and men are usually about equal. I got invited to be part of the New London Water Days parade, and that was good fun. It's a joy to be putting down roots into a beautiful community, to walk through town along the parade route and see people I've come to know along the way. There is something just delightful about a good small town festival, and it made up in some measure for the fact that I failed to get to my hometown last weekend for the Polk County Fair. Maybe I'll get up there the second weekend in August for the 3-D archery shoot my brother is putting on. I haven't been to the farm so far this summer, and I miss it.
Then Sunday I got to be a preacher once again -- doing more of that late in the summer -- and had a great time digging into the church at Antioch in Acts 11 and what God was doing in moving the center of his mission from Jerusalem, the predominantly Jewish bastion, to Antioch, the crossroads of cultures. You can listen to the sermon (and the entire service) here if you like.
Last night I met with the group of excellent leaders who are moving toward developing Life Groups -- mid sized, home based groups -- here at The Open Door Christian Church. I'm so excited about this model and it's a privilege to be part of this movement. All that I've written on this blog over the years about "pastorates" is coming to fruition in this effort.
It's a joy for me to be discovering a voice in this place, and it feels like God has prepared this to be a good fit for me, which should be no surprise -- that's just the kind of thing God does. It's pretty amazing to think of how little of it I could see coming a year or more ago. Thirteen months ago I had never heard of Decision Hills, and The Open Door was just a fledgling church led by a friend of mine. I was bruised up and job hunting and trying to figure out how to move forward and all the doors seemed closed. After many months of frustration, doors suddenly opened and answers to so many of my worries fell into place. Funny how, when you're waiting for God and ready to jump ("always roaming with a hungry heart" in Tennyson's words) into the next adventure he has for you, he can make dramatic, positive changes so quickly. One of the lines from my sermon yesterday that several people resonated with, talking about Paul and how he cooled his heels for roughly eight years in his hometown of Tarsus, being tenderized for the sake of God's good plans for him, was that "God is not punishing you -- he's preparing you."
God is faithful, and he has perfect timing. I'm soaking in that fact these days. Little by little I'm learning, as I see his faithfulness unfolding day after day, month after month, year after year, to trust him for the future, for those places I'm still waiting for his promises to unfold. Funny how much of a struggle that can still be, but I know he has good plans.
Meanwhile, I'm off to the funeral of a 13-year-old girl who lost her fight with cancer. By her request, we're all showing up in boots, jeans, western shirts and hats -- so I get to go be a cowboy for a while, and though it's an incredibly sad occasion, I love this girl's spunk and sense of humor.