“I’m ready for a vacation!”
There are certain times of the year where you just sense you need a break from your regular routine. As you think about your next chance to take some time off work and get some time away from the demands of your schedule – are you thinking about being spiritually refreshed? We usually think about our need for physical, emotional and mental rest, but perhaps your vacation plans are so full that you take a “vacation” from your spiritual life as you get out of town.
When friends return from vacation we naturally ask them, “how was your time away?” “What did you do?” “What did you see?” When was the last time you intentionally asked, “What did it mean?”
Sometimes you get a feeling in your gut that is a deep knowing that only comes from God.
When Josh Gallagher, the lead pastor of Paradise Alliance and I talked about what he wanted to find most in the ashes of their house in Paradise, my stomach turned over. Josh said, “I’d like to find my wedding ring he said, and I kind of know where it was in the house.”
I volunteered our church staff to take a half day to help Josh and his wife Erin sort through ashes – I just had a strong sense in my gut that we were going to find it.
Over the past six weeks I have seen incredible unity among churches who have never partnered together. The tragedy that we all have been living in has softened hearts to receive prayer at a rate that I have never seen before. People are hurting and it’s impossible to hide it. As you look around public spaces it is common to see someone weeping or you feel the stress level in our city at a heightened level. This is not just the recovery from a wildfire; this is an historical event of epic proportion that it is impossible to fully comprehend.
We will call today’s lunch – “A memorial lunch.”
A few friends gathered to eat together and tell stories about a man named Don, who slipped into heaven the day before this awful fire broke out. His passing could have been forgotten with both of his brothers working long days at the Red Cross shelter at Neighborhood Church on November 8th. They responded to this crisis in the midst of their shock and grief, and graciously served others. It was good to visit today and focus on honoring and celebrating Don’s life and also to encourage his brothers.
What do you do to remember special people or events in your past?
The Camp Fire is still burning, but we already feel how life in our area, as we know it, has changed for a long, long time.
When I woke up last Friday and heard that so much of the ridge had burned, I knew this was no ordinary wildfire like we have ever experienced before. The magnitude of the devastation is overwhelming. After getting a rare chance to survey a bit of Paradise earlier this week, I was both heartbroken and hopeful.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” - Eleanor Roosevelt
This week many of our friends escaped the flames of the Camp Fire on the ridge with only the clothes on their back. It has now been declared the most destructive wildfire in California history. The grief that I experienced in the course of 24 hours was the most overwhelming I have felt in my 25 years of full time ministry.
We are Called to FIND Safe People and we are Called to BE Safe People.
During the recent series Fighting the Flames from Within, Pastor Andrew referred often to the community aspect of shame. Shame is rooted in community and healing comes through community. Shame tells us that if people knew, we would be rejected.
Healing comes when we look into the eyes of our brother or sister in Christ and see love, compassion, and acceptance looking back at as. We long to see the eyes of Christ embracing us in our shame, but shame tells us “if they knew the truth, they would reject me.” Breaking the grip of this lie comes through telling our story to a safe person, a person who is able and willing, like Christ, to despise shame and refuse to join with its voice.
What a shame… the series is over.
We have received so much feedback about our recent teaching series, “Shame: Facing the Flames from within.” As I talk to more and more people who are becoming aware of the presence of shame in their lives, I find that the skill of good coaching is becoming seriously handy! When someone is trying to unwind a personal problem with you and they are quick to ask you for your advice on what to do – it’s time to slow things down and ask questions rather than blurt out your solution to their problem. As we seek to be safe people who others can be vulnerable with, and tell their shame stories… the coaching posture is gentle and helpful.