This is NOT another blog about General Conference!
BUT at the beginning of May, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church met to review and make decisions regarding the our now, truly, global denomination. Every four years, UM pastors and lay people from around the globe gather to reflect, pray, work and provide leadership for our denomination for the next four years. It is hard work but it is good work. But every time emotions and reason tend to go to battling each other. I want to encourage you to visit UMC.org and learn more.
But there was something different going on. An emphasis existed, something more covert than the overt plenary sessions or public worship. During this General Conference, Hearts on Fire, the Fellowship of United MethodistSpiritual Directors were present for delegates seeking after God in the midst of their work. This practice of Spiritual Direction is nothing new to the Church, it is actually quite ancient (you can read more about it here). Spiritual direction is about assisting people on their spiritual journey. The real work is done by the Holy Spirit.
Jim Wallis, founder of The Sojourners, said at a conference I attended, “Faith is personal but it isn't private.” How true! What the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, effects the Kingdom of God, even in the smallest of ways. It is so easy to dis-count ourselves and our lives in comparison to God, though we have no problem in puffing out our chests regarding our importance to our small, tiny, personal kingdoms (like vocations, family, hobbies, etc). But Jesus taught us the very opposite. Jesus described it saying, “... if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:20).”
I must say thank you for the faith and prayers of so many here at Cumming FUMC who have focused on God's Kingdom . Not only have I seen the power and faithfulness of the prayers in other people's lives, I have experienced it in my own. During the first weeks of February, as I lost vision in my right eye, the Intercessory Prayer Ministry and the church began praying. As the vision got worse and my doctors continued searching for an answer, your prayers continued and I began receiving cards and notes from far and wide. I received an incredible camoflauge blanket from the Happy Knotters and Prayer Shawl ministry that reminds me daily of the prayers of God's people.
What was hardest during these days was not having a diagnoses. I kept asking, “God, please just let me know what is going on!” In April, I received a diagnosis that I have a vascular disease effecting my optical nerve. A blockage occurred in the veins going to my optical nerve that caused the swelling (the disease is called Ischemic Optic Neuropathy) and subsequent vision loss. It shouldn't get any worse but then there is also no treatment for my vision loss.
So while there has been no improvement in my vision, I have found a dramatic improvement in my spiritual vision that was unexpected. I have seen and heard God in so many places. One of those places was in my recent sermon series which has been based on our upcoming Vacation Bible School theme, “Sky: No Matter How You Feel...Trust God!” It is the story of Daniel. On the day he got word that his prayers to God were outlawed by King Darius, he didn't stop praying, nor did he increase his prayers, “...he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. (Daniel 6:10).”
As we move into the summer months, what “customs,” what habits are you performing or setting aside to seek after God? Don't stop! And let me encourage you, if you aren't sure about trusting God, get out there and take part and take part in VBS (especially if your church is doing SKY). Here at Cumming FUMC, I will be helping at VBS all week, June 4-8 (I can't wait) telling Daniel's story and the stories of others who trusted God.
You see, I've got this tiny faith and I need to trust more. Won't you join me on that journey?