Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Disciples

It’s officially summertime! Not being a student anymore, this doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to, but I still get the hankering for snow cones, watermelon, visits to family, and long days by the pool when the temperatures rise.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but my husband teaches private music lessons in addition to his doctoral work. And every summer, he’s faced with the same challenge – students who have been diligently working to improve on their instrument and in their musicianship are eager to take a break.

I can relate. Who doesn’t want a break now and then? A chance to get away, relax, and break up the routine. My husband always has a serious conversation with his students, reminding them that if they take 3 months off, they will not pick up where they left off in the fall.

That’s true for all of us when it comes to the places in our lives when we are earnestly striving to grow. While a vacation may do us good, we don’t pick up in exactly the same place when we come back. It’s the same for a musician, an athlete, and a follower of Jesus. Being a pastor, I know that long, hot days and fun, late nights often mean skipping worship on Sunday. I really do understand and, on a morning like this past Sunday, when the wind’s blowing, the rain’s pouring, and the thunder’s rumbling, I would have been tempted to stay in bed if it were an option.

But, even before I was a clergyperson, I knew my life was better and stronger when I lived it with my family of faith. When I was away, especially for an extended period, like the years I was in seminary or the summers served with the Air Force, I missed things. I remember being heartbroken to find out about the deaths of dear souls when I got back. I missed the things that living out a committed relationship offered.

Likewise, the Bible is not just a story about God, but about divine love and God’s desire for relationship with us. While we may only gather to worship 1 hour each week, God wants to be a part of our lives 24/7. And God gives us brothers and sisters in our lives to help embody God’s love to us and for us to love in return.

To live healthy, whole lives as disciples, we need relationships, guides, and guards who can help us on our journeys and be with us when we reach our destinations. This summer, at the Krum Church, we’ll be considering 11 companions that every person needs on life’s journey. Each one becomes a gift of God to us. We’ll also look to see how we offer this companionship to others.

Just recently, I realized I was in need of some mentoring. Moving from being an associate pastor to a senior pastor has led me to find some of my growing edges. So I reached out to a couple of colleagues, asking them out to lunch, and bringing all my questions with me. It was such a blessing to sit with partners in ministry, sharing our hearts and experiences, as we continue to offer the good news of Jesus Christ in the world. I left each meeting with a renewed sense of call and purpose.

Strangely enough, I also find myself on the side of mentoring others. After six years of full-time ministry, I’ve learned a thing or two, so I regularly get calls, texts, e-mails, or Facebook messages from those seeking a word of wisdom or encouragement. I pray they find the same sense of blessing through our conversations.

We’re never done learning and growing in this life. We’re called to have one hand up, seeking to grasp the hand of those ahead of us and pulling ourselves forward. We’re called to have one hand back, offering our grip to those behind us and pulling them up with us. We stand in the gap, offering authentic, loving relationships on behalf of the God who loves all of us.

This Sunday, we’ll talk how we all need a Nathan in our lives. The name Nathan means “gift,” but Nathan the prophet was more than a gift to King David. During David’s reign, Nathan provided him with expert counsel on lots of things, but he also spoke directly to the heart of the king. May we all find a person who speaks to our heart.

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