Summary: Why would you want to settle for just “doing church” when you could be filled with the awe of God?
Mary and I are truly grateful to the church for providing us with some extended time off to celebrate our 40th anniversary. As usual, it was great to have some down time just to relax and be refreshed on our vacation and, other than the cold that I think I picked up on the way home when there were a bunch of people sneezing and coughing on the plane, I definitely feel refreshed and ready to get back at it.
But this summer, God also used our time away to do some needed work in my life, both personally and as a pastor. So this morning I’d like to share with you a few of those things, both because I need to ask your forgiveness about several things and because my guess is that at least some of the things I learned might prove to be valuable for all of us, both as individuals, and for us as a body.
God used two primary instruments in that process – a book and some circumstances. I’ll begin with the circumstances.
Apparently, as Mary kept reminding me throughout the trip, I need to work on being more patient. So it seems that God kept slowing me down, literally, throughout our trip.
When we got to Kauai and tried to pick up our rental car, there was a long line and it wasn’t moving very fast as it seemed every single customer had to ask question after question about their rentals. And the lady who was apparently the manager, thought it was more important to restock brochures and otherwise piddle around in the office rather than actually help customers. Apparently she was right because by the time we finally got our car, there was no one left in line.
A couple days later we went to the grocery store and I got in the express lane that was for “8 items or less”. Apparently the person two people ahead of me in line thought that meant multiples of 8, as she had 16 items – yes I counted them.
Then there was the day we decided to drive the road to Hana in Maui. From where we staying it was a little over an hour drive to get to the beginning of the highway – which we completely expected. According to the app we used, there are over 600 curves and nearly 60 one lane bridges on that road. We also were aware of that so we knew it was going to take several hours to drive that 30-mile stretch of road. On that drive we made several stops along the way, including one at a state park that had a really cool sea cave, a black sand beach, and supposedly a blowhole, which we never saw. Of course, on the way back to the main highway all the traffic was stopped for about a half hour because a large branch had fallen on the narrow road and it took a while for a group of people to move it.
On the way back to our condo, however, we got just past the airport on the main highway and traffic literally came to a stop. So for the next 30 miles or so, we drove in bumper to bumper traffic, going about half the speed we had gone on the road to Hana. We figured there must have been an accident or some other reason for the slow traffic but later found out that all the timeshares on Maui rent from Saturday to Saturday, so everyone flies in that day, stops at Costco and then heads to their timeshares on the same highway we were on. So if you ever go to Maui, don’t arrive or leave on a Saturday.
However, by the end of the trip, I must have learned at least a little patience since we didn’t have any more unexpected delays like that. But actually, as I’ll share with you later, I came to understand that the issue God wanted to bring to my attention was actually not patience, but something far more important.
The book, on the other hand, revealed some far more significant and deep-seated issues that I needed to deal with. Before we left I downloaded a book titled Dangerous Calling – Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. In hindsight I should have been more careful in picking my book – after all, the first word in the title was “Dangerous”. And that’s exactly what that book turned out to be – in a good way.
So let me summarize for you what I learned from that book and then I’ll share some more of the details that led me to this conclusion:
In both my personal life and in my role as Pastor:
I have been attempting to master the Word of God