This is the third or fourth time I've made the trip. The drive is relaxing - I cut through the agricultural belt of Dover, Antioch and Thonotosassa - and I know by now what to expect. But even so it always takes me a few minutes to re-acclimatize myself; because a visit to Zephyrhills is - essentially - a time-warp experience. Walking into the Methodist church fellowship hall, full of guys in white short-sleeved shirts, is like stepping back into the 1950's or 60's.
The event was well attended, with 40 men from a variety of local churches seated around 6 trestle-tables. I read from Philippians Chapter 2 "Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose". Then I spoke for around 25 minutes, sharing three stories about God's faithfulness and the amazing redemptive quality of grace. I concluded by sharing about the blood-pumping immediacy that characterizes my own current journey.
I can't overstate how valuable it is to spend quality time around other people of faith, fellow travellers who are making their way along the same path. I didn't have time to talk with more than a few guys today, but I know for a fact that each man in the Zephyhills group owns a unique story that is worth sharing and worth knowing.
When did you last tell your story? When did you last listen to another pilgrim?
- If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:1-5)