This weekend I traveled to South Bend, IN to celebrate the wedding of my wife’s cousin as he married his college sweetheart. I have known Kevin since we were both boys, and it has been a joy to watch him grow both physically and spiritually these many years. The trip itself was VERY quick! I flew up there Friday afternoon and flew back to West Virginia Saturday night, so as you can imagine it was a hurried weekend. Yet in the midst of all the excitement, God taught me some valuable lessons that will stick with me for a long time. I am learning that every event in life is a learning opportunity; and so here, in no particular order, are the 10 lessons I learned this weekend:
1.Telling others the Good News about Jesus is more important than anything else. This is a no brainer right? Yet this is often easier to preach than to practice. I boarded my flight Friday with every intention of burying my head in a book for two hours straight. I had brought books I was determined to read on the trip so that I could tell myself I had been “productive.” I had the window seat and a woman named Tina joined me shortly after. After exchanging a few pleasantries we struck up a conversation and I began to learn about her life. Now I had a choice at this point, namely to politely drop the conversation and pick up my book, or learn more about her life and family. I chose the latter and it afforded me the opportunity to learn about her understanding the gospel and share with her the truth of Scripture. I could have easily missed that wonderful encounter with Tina had I put reading above people.
2.There are such things as “Scrabble Tournaments.” My new friend on the plane was flying to play the board game “Scrabble.” Now believe it or not, there is an immense amount of skill and strategy required for such an event. I assumed a large vocabulary would be sufficient, but hard-core “Scrabblers” will memorize words that contain letters that score more points, such as “X” or “Z.” And they know how many spaces separate every double word score and triple word scores and have words memorized that will maximize point values. All I can say is WOW!
3.There are more hurting pastors out there than any of us realize. At the wedding I met a pastor and his wife who have just left a ministry under painful circumstances. They knew of my recent departure from the church I served, and told me their story of being asked to resign with forty plus years of ministry experience. I do not know anything about the circumstances, whether such a thing was justified or not. All I know is that I met a man and his wife who have given their lives to the gospel ministry and are broken right now. And there are many more besides them.
4.Humility is a grace that does not come easily to my heart. I had originally been asked to officiate this wedding, but in the course of events the parish priest of the bride’s church was given the privilege and I served in a smaller capacity. This was a hard pill to swallow. I felt slighted and disrespected because communication was never clearly given to me about this until the last minute. I know that this was not done to hurt me in any way, but my ego got bruised a little bit. My pride said, “you deserve better than this; you were supposed to preach, but now all you are doing is reading Scripture and sitting down.” Yet I am convinced the greatest role I will ever have is a servant to Christ and others. I thank God I had the honor of reading His word publicly to men and women who do not know the Christ pointed to in Scripture. So I put my pride to death and praised God for the opportunity afforded to me, and my heart rejoiced in reading 1 John 4 publicly this past weekend. I will share more lessons tomorrow.