The Between Journey: Pilgrimage I

I guess I’m a preacher.

Yesterday, the elders prayed over me, and told me to go to work.  From an experiential point of view, the morning was amazing mostly because of the deep calm inside.  I’ve been in analogous situations before: being charged with certain responsibilities that carry significant weight.  All the other times, my heart would pound in that body-shaking way, and I would be able to take on whatever, but there was always a sort of fear/excitement that went along with it, voice shaking, crackling with energy, me pumping along hoping to get somebody going just by sheer strength of wild-eyed frenzy.

Yesterday, my heart was calm as a still lake.

I don’t know what it means, but the thought went through my head that this is what the fruit of the Spirit feels like.  Peace that passes understanding, a peace not generated out of my own restless desire to finally get my life right, or finally live up to what God has for me, or whatever other such notions normally have me in such a lather.  It is a simple place, a place of restful moving, living inside a dynamic situation with a certain ease because none of this depends on me (at least at the deepest and truest levels) or my increased levels of motivational hyperness.

The day was long.  As a congregation, we talked about the unsettled nature of the moment we found ourselves in and the fact that in the midst of all manner of unsettled moments, Jesus says, as he did in John 14:1, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”  I told them we are going on a journey, and the first leg in pilgrimage in search of the holy place that is our own deep hearts and the heart of the Christ that is doing his work there through the Holy Spirit.   And I also told them I knew some of them were still wondering if this was a journey they wanted to be on.  That’s fine, I said.  But the invitation is open, and the desire is that the family that is this church moves together to the place God is calling us.

I asked very simply, “Are you coming?”

Then to touch base with our life group was great.   Our little group has been traveling together for several years now, and they know the truth about me, and will continue to treat me like the guy I am.  No preacherly treatment here.   Good friends, good food, challenging talk, and relationships I cherish.

Then the Christmas Musical Act I stumble-through.  We learned a lot, laughed hysterically through most of it, and rarely got impatient of panicky.  All good.  We’ve got lots of work to do, and it’s a real joy to see these people sing and dance and act in ways that normal life just won’t let them do.

Then the 6:00 o’clock hour came, and in came the giants.  I say the giants because about a dozen people gathered in our sanctuary to pray.  People that pray are giants, and I don’t mean the bad kind we have to face down.  I mean the kind that carry weary people on their backs all the way to the throne of the Father.   They prayed for an hour and a half, and I left bleary-eyed and humbled, knowing that God was indeed close to us, listening, watching, calling, healing, hovering over us as the Spirit did at the beginning, moving over the chaos preparing to create great beauty.

Movin’ out soon… 

4 Comments

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  1. Count us in, Jeff. As long as you are walking in the Spirit, we want to follow you. As Paul said, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” Our prayer for you and the church is the same as Paul’s in Ephesians 1:15-23.

  2. Thanks again for letting your journey get published. One thing I believe is that to God, since he’s omnipresent…meaning I’m understanding that to mean that he tangibly exists in all points in time throughout all time. That as the stars of the past viscerally shine on us all at night, stars as they were billions of light years ago….seemingly fresh…in our present moment…I deeply believe that the past…to God…is very much alive. And that to him all moments are viscerally tangible…in ways of course I cannont understand. This belief of mine…makes sense to me that because of that Grace is not some sweep under the rug of things…but a very vital and necessary ingredient so that we can commune with God not only in the present moment but perhaps so God may be at peace with moments that while in the past to us..and therefore unacessable to us…are still very real and accessable to God. I’m careful with this belief of mine. It’s not an advocation of dwelling on things one should be free of. It’s a mere understanding…one that gives for me gratitude.

    One moment that is very much alive and real for me. Even though relative to me…it’s in the past. Was when I went to Bosnia. I say Bosnia because that’s what got airplay in the news. In reality I was on the border. In Zupanja Croatia. But the orders to activate my unit. Those orders were for Bosnia. Your calmness reminds me of being completely alive and completely lucid and still and completely calm as I was being prayed over before I went. I was the first wave before anyone knew whether or not the different factions would fire upon NATO/IFOR….of course the news made like it would be the new ‘Nam and we’d all die in a ball of fire. Having been through that before with Gulf One I was nonplussed by the news. Yet am thankful to remember the calm before what was for me could have been great risk. So I know you’ll do fine. I laugh as I say that because I know you. And I know you as more than fine..and because of the relative safety and wealth many in the west have compared to the rest of the world. I guess I’m wondering…that moment..I had that calm moment was more than just going to war and being ok with my morality..and ok with my limits. It was a threshold moment. One in which I became numb to many things I’d worried about. That was in December of ’95. For me that eternal moment. I’m thankful to see another have the same sense of calm. I don’t like writing about military things. Because what’s remarkable about those things is how un-remarkable those things are. To me it’s like death. For me what’s so remarkable about death is how un-remarkable it is. Death is only one or two notes away from the song of life. Which is why so many that should be dead….live. And that gives me great hope. I hope all is well with your fellow sheep.

    The videos of Daniel. that you posted awhile back; absolutely astounding. He is amazingly gifted and I know that in itself is a wonderful gift to you and am glad to have seen your joy over that. In any case take care and have a great day….Chris.

  3. We’re glad that you’re willing to take on the responsibility, knowing that God will give you the strength if you’re willing to take him on faith.

    The busy-ness of it all still frightens me; being the son of a preacher, knowing all the burdens that come to be laid on the shoulders of the man in the pulpit, remembering the expectations and frustrations and the constant drain on the man and the family who tends to him.

    Our prayers are with you, Jeff. We hope to see you sound and safe and sane when next we manage to wend our way west and share in the joy of worship at Northwest. Live long and prosper.

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