It's weird... like a dualistic dichotomy between fast forward and slow-motion. I see this in my boys as they age and wonder, "Look how fast they've grown!" while simultaneously thinking, "This is a moment that is thick and rich and full of so many things that I want to slowly take in right now." It shows up all over the map, too, most notably when life throws a curveball like a sickness or a death - be it an individual or a dream. It can even be in those moments when your hand reaches over the table to touch another hand of someone who means the world to you... not to mention having a 2-year old grab the hair on your arm and stroke it with his tiny little boy fingers.
Anyway... yesterday ended a 9 month or so run of me teaching at Greenville Community Church - an innovative community of Christ followers with a heart to touch people of all spiritual backgrounds in a relevant way. My history with the church began in 1999 when I joined the staff for almost four years as an assistant pastor over many things. My tenure has included that season of ministry to youth, college, kids, leaders, and the praise team, not to mention being a regular teacher back then and even now. Without going into a whole bunch of details, the church lost its senior pastor last fall due to some issues in his life and I happened to be available to serve. It's been an amazing season of a long commute where I would show up and how that Jesus Christ showed up through me.
So this was my last official Sunday... and they spoiled me. Earlier in the month they threw a potluck dinner complete with cards, financial gifts, and plenty of laughs. Yesterday I got up to preach and before I could open my mouth they shot into a surprise video of Superman footage with me superimposed (no pun intended) into the mix. I even walked away with a life-sized cardboard stand-up of the new Superman to take home. Add a Chinese buffet afterwards with some good friends and it was a pretty sweet day (because I like rice... rice is great if your hungry and want 2000 of something).
Perhaps what was the greatest blessing, though, was the slowing down I mentioned earlier. After service I did something I hardly ever do - I went to the back of the meeting space and hung out at the door like an old school preacher. Not only did I get the chance to shake a whole lot of hands, but I heard stories from people whom I'd never know God used me to touch. Some of them blew my mind, while others provided a bit of encouragement that I will treasure in days to come. At the end of it all, I asked if I could flip the lightswitch (more on that in the next post or two).
When you leave some place... you look at the building a little differently.
You take in the faces more fully.
Life is a little slower.
The truth is that while they celebrated me as a hero of sorts, these people are actually my heroes. They have been the church AND the Church to us... encouraging us with words and lifting us up in prayers. In the midst of someone telling me they were going to miss me, one of my closest friends at GCC said, "I won't." Of course I spun back around and said, "What?" The reply back was, "Because I still plan on staying connected with you."
Perhaps this is where time collides a bit. In the temporal I find myself missing these people and who they have been to my family. In the eternal, though, I know this is all but a prelude to heaven. Once we're there, the purity of a relationship with Jesus Christ - the one true Hero - will unveil these relationships to a whole new level.
Hmm... perhaps that's why it's called eternity.
Ever notice how time moves a bit differently when you know something is changing?
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)