When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:53-56
We have traveled a little more than 1/3 of the way through Mark, and we are still around the Sea of Galilee. We will be here a bit longer, briefly travel west to the Coast of the Mediterranean and back again. But Judea will start to trickle into the conversation, and eventually, we will begin our journey to Jerusalem. We will move from his ministry to his passion.
In the meantime, it is fun to ponder our spiritual journeys; perform our own Location Check-In.
I spent more than half my life in Connecticut. It was there where I was formed, born, came of age, came to faith, married “J,” purchased our first house, and ushered Chewie into the world. (Baby was conceived there and born in Pennsylvania.) I was being imagined and designed.
We spent five years in Eastern PA. It was there where I became Presbyterian, invited to be a Gideon, ordained a Deacon, preached my first two sermons, discerned my call to ministry, and closed out my secular career. My metal was being superheated.
Iowa was the next three years. It was there where I had my ministry toolbox filled, deeply convicted of the foundational theology of my ministry, began to find my voice in preaching, and watched my family evolve. I was hammered into shape.
Illinois was quick and challenging. It was there that I learned I did not want to be simply a caretaker or undertaker for a church beginning the end stages of a long slow death. There, I learned the cycles of the liturgical year, experienced deep grief for the first time, and the Spirit broke through and gave me my voice and craft as a preacher. I was heated, hammered, flattened, and formed into a recognizable image.
Western Pennsylvania was a proving ground. I spent five years honing my craft as an expositor, pastor, and pot-stirrer. But I also learned to stand firm amid the storm, literally, spiritually, pastorally, and emotionally. I was heated and cooled to normalize (lock-in) my shape.
For the past ten years, I have been in Northern New Jersey. This is the longest “J” and I have ever lived since we married. Here I have found a white hot mess of a family, earned my doctorate, watched them thrive, walked with them through a pandemic, and more. I have been sanded, strengthened, quenched, polished, hilted, and sharpened.
It’s always good to look at where you have been to see where you are and where you are being led!
Spirit of the Living God,
Fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me!
I pray this in the name of the Triune God of Grace. Amen!