A trip to the mountains is always good. More so when summer is beginning to settle in around Florida and the cool north Georgia air provides welcome relief.
The weekend retreat I attended was more than refreshing - it was redemptive. The men had come because they wanted to replenish their faith and to encourage one another along the way. By Sunday lunch they’d accomplished a lot more; they’d answered the call to discipleship, and they’d made promises to God that have the potential to revolutionize their North Atlanta congregation.
Saturday night's camp-fire was powerful, and then Sunday morning pulled everything together. Several shared what God is up to in their lives; I gave a short message; then Matt - one of the pastors - led communion. I asked for five minutes at the end, and what transpired became a poignant benedictory.
“This morning I spent two reflective hours walking the grounds with this basket,” I said, holding out a heavy container of stones. “As I picked up these stones along the way I thought about each one of you, and I prayed that God would use you in your church.”
I took out a large round rock and held it in my palm. “I dug this one from the bed of a stream; I found another off the path, and one out by the front gate. Eventually the basket became heavy, but I held on to it and I thought about the burden you’re carrying for this church.
“Here’s my invitation: If you’d like a tangible reminder of the work God is doing in your life, then leave your seat, come up to the basket, and take a stone. There are enough for every man here.”
Then, over the next few minutes and one at a time, each man in the room came forward to choose one of the rocks.
“God’s love is spiritual,” I said, “But it’s also emotional and intellectual and physical. Jesus trusted his disciple Peter enough to call him ‘Rocky’; then he said, ‘on this rock I’m going to build my church.’”
That small group of men, taking refreshment in the Georgia mountains, has the same audacious, propulsive, purposeful, life-giving creative power at their disposal as Christ’s disciples had, 2,000 year ago.
It’s the art of the possible; it’s what Jesus staked the future of his church upon when he commissioned the Twelve. It’s up to us where this Gospel goes from here.
Love and blessings - DEREK