Saturday, November 26, 2005
Thankful for Timothy
I woke up at 6:30 a.m. It was something like a hundred degrees below zero in Griffith, IN. Jackie and I drove the six hours back to Lexington where I caught a 4 p.m. flight to Tulsa via Cincinnati. Arrived at 6:30 p.m. just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with the fam.

On Sunday morning Pastora Irma shared some of her struggles trying to communicate the point of Thanksgiving to some of the Hispanic congregation at La Roca. It's more than Turkey Day. She boiled it down the time to remember when a group of people gave thanks to God for surviving their treacherous circumstances. I really like the sound of that. That's what I choose to celebrate this week.

Speaking of thankful... I'm in Tulsa not just for family but also some denominational interviews on Monday and Tuesday for the candidacy process for ministry. In preparing the paperwork for these meetings, I had write out the most formative experiences of my Christian life. There have been many, but I chose to focus on three relatively recent ones. The first two deal with some severe disappointments that led to some heavy disillusionment with people who call themselves "Christians." Those stories are for another day, as they are not entirely appropriate for a setting such as this.

The story that is important right now is of the six people who stopped my bleeding and of the kindest words I have ever heard. This is the story of the beginning of God's manifest redemption in my life.

When life hit rock bottom, and then a little lower than that, I explored other churches in the Northern Virginia area and found myself at Clear River Community Church. There I connected with a trio of couples, all with young children, who adopted me as one of their own and included me in their small group. Whereas I had once been an active leader and volunteer in church, strong and confident in my faith, now I could not even pray. I was deconstructing all I knew about faith and Christianity and church down to its bare foundation.

Tim and Alexis, the hosts of the small group every Tuesday, would invite me each week to eat dinner with their family before the group came over. On one such Tuesday, 6-year-old Timothy, procrastinating the consumption of his pile of green beans, set down his silverware and stood to his feet and declared, “I am so glad when Peter comes over to dinner!” In this simple confession of a precocious child, I finally heard the overwhelming grace of God.

Whereas I had once been rejected by so-called “Christians,” I now found myself accepted. In the context of this meal shared in the name of Christian community, for the sake of knowing and being known in Christ’s name, I was welcome. It was this group that embraced me in all of my woundedness and nursed my faith. They encouraged me unanimously when I was presented with the opportunity to attend seminary.

I am so grateful to God for providing the harbor of safety that this group came to be in my life. I credit these people with showing me the love of God when I most needed it and guiding me to the place in my spiritual journey where I now find myself.

Today I am thankful I survived the darkness. I am thankful for God's crazy, reckless grace to me.

Today I am thankful for Paul and Erica, Tim and Alexis, Jason and Fiona. And I am thankful for Timothy.

(L-R, Erica, Grace, Fiona, Pastor Jeff, Paul, Noah)

posted by Peter at 1:17 AM
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