et me share what I enjoy the most about the kind of retreat/conference I just experienced this weekend. I enjoy climbing the steps onto the stage, walking over to the podium, smoothing out my notes, and engaging a room full of people in a conversation about the Life-Charged Life.
It’s pretty funny, especially when I think about how shy and reticent I was when I started out my adult life. I was frightened of public speaking, and resisted anything that pushed me into some kind of spotlight. It goes to show how it is possible to change over time, and how God will do amazing and unexpected things with our lives when we’re willing to step out of our comfort zone and follow.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:4-6)
DELIVERY: Essentially, what’s happened is that I’ve realized I have an important story to tell, and that it’s not enough – sometimes – to just write words of life when I could also deliver them in person, “according to the grace given to [me].”
I’ve come a long way in terms of understanding how to stand in front of a room full of people since GET REAL first came out in 2007. And one thing I’ve learned well is to read the temperature of a crowd, and to gauge if the communication between us is merely surface-level or if something important is happening.
And, I’ve got to tell you, when I share a story from my own faith-journey, and when I know that I have effectively connected with most every person in the room, that is a wonderful moment.
CONNECTION: Friday evening, in my opening address (about Transformational Moments), one of the things I talked about was the experience of being with my brother, Geoff, over the last few days before he died. I said it was possibly both the most difficult and the most wonderful experience of my life, and I told these men how God had come alongside all of us during that time, and how the reassurance and the love was – and is – so strong, so faithful, and so true.
And of course I stumbled over my words, because love that strong and that deep is overwhelming and it tends to get in the way; love can be disarmingly emotional and it gets all over everything.
I had no idea that so many men in the crowd had lost a brother in the recent past; nor did I anticipate how much emotion can be conveyed via the subtle body language of row after row of men simply leaning forward in their seats.
COMMUNION: And so it went. I spoke three more times Saturday, around 45-50 minutes per session, with each presentation seeming to build on the one before. By Sunday morning, when I brought a shorter message to the communion service, I felt as if we all knew each other intimately.
And communion, as we know, is about the invitation to know God intimately. Sharing the bread and the wine is the symbolic representation of Jesus giving absolutely everything to make sure that you, and I – and anyone else who is willing – can come to the table and receive grace, forgiveness, promise, and the kind of life-charged life that really isn’t possible via any other context.
So this was – most definitely – a great weekend. It’s good to be home, but it is always an amazing privilege to spend a couple of days with men who are honestly seeking to grow in understanding and in devotion and in grace.
Peace and promise – DEREK