We just returned from an extra-long weekend trip to New Jersey for a surprise birthday celebration of my oldest daughter's 50th, planned by her two children. It was a very special time.....in so many different ways....each of them significant....all having to do with relationships. Some healing, some restoration, some building and on and on. So many stories. So many things crashing thru my mind wanting to find an expression of some sort in some way.
I had 2 or 3 postings cooking when we went down....now I can't even say how many things I want (need) to say. Ellen and I talked about so many of them during the 6 hour ride down and then even more hashing and rehashing during the 6 hours driving back. How special that time was with each other. Ellen is such an integral, important part of my life, what a gift from the Lord to me.....and how exciting this journey together..... then this trip........ so significant in so many ways.
I believe I need to start by explaining that New Jersey was where I spent most of my adult life, from age 16 to age 49.....it was home for all 6 kids from my first marriage that I wrecked, home for my parents, for so many friends.....it was where our church was birthed back in 1976, where I pastored until 1986 when we shut it all down....repented of running people's lives and all the rest that followed.....I've touched on much of all that in previous postings.
Here it is, 22 years after the closing of the church and over the weekend, we spent significant, life sharing time with 3 couples and a single from the old church for 4 hours on Friday night. We stayed with one of the couples in their home the entire weekend. Ellen talked to another old friend for over an hour on the phone Friday....another women came over on Saturday for several hours. It was as if we had never left New Jersey and we all just picked up relationally where we had left off so many years ago. Others were out of town or had other commitments.
The thing that struck me was, that after all those 22 years, it was suddenly so obvious to me (perhaps for the first time) that what we had done in the church over those 10 years was not all bad.
We had, in fact, built all kinds of life into people, there were many meaningful, lasting relationships and....another very interesting point.....each and every one of them were significantly involved in other churches (most in different places) and all were and are totally involved in them and in some sort of leadership capacity.
The things they had learned and experienced from their involvement with us during those days of the old church, continued to operate in their lives. We had been part of the Shepherding and Discipleship Movement during the 70's and 80's.
Shepherding had built important things into their lives. Discipleship had built other significant things into their lives. They knew how to serve the Lord and serve others. The knew what it meant to be totally committed to Jesus and to others. They knew and know why they are here on this earth, that God has a plan for their lives and they are totally absorbed in the outworking of His plan for their lives. They know that their relationship with Jesus is 24/7 not Sunday morning for a couple hours. They want what He wants.
It was a wonderful experience for Ellen and I.....we did all we could to encourage them to keep pressing on in their relationships with the Lord and with each other. It was hard to leave.
Ellen and I talked much during the trip back, about how we might implement the good things that had happened back then, and incorporate them in what we are doing today..... as well as how to keep out all the controlling, manipulating and sinful things that went along with what we had done before.
I will be writing more on that in the days to come. Ellen has just started on another trip.... this time to Florida to spend a week with her sister, the famous Jeanne, who gives us all the books! :)
This should give me much time to think....and you know how dangerous that can be...... I hope to be cranking out something most days in order to clear my head of all the mental downloads of the past week. Till then.....