Last week was such blessing. Each day brought with it the challenge of walking more than a few miles, new people to meet, new churches to connect and celebrate with. It was filled with some great memories.
One of my favorite moments from last week was talking with a couple of the pastor’s and seeing the joy on their faces as they shared their passion for ministry and for the congregations they serve.
I was reminded that I am not in this alone. And it is not all about me. Those thoughts became especially apparent when I rested on Sunday. All week I worked hard on the walk, trying to go as far as I could, to talk with as many as I could. By Saturday I was done in. I had reached my limit.
Sunday was a day that I was able to sit back, worship God with First UMC of Somerset, and thank God for my limits. Because those limits make me rely on God all the more.
That day of rest helped me to realize if I act like I can do it all and don’t take the time to sit and worship in God’s presence and seek God’s will for my life, I will be useless. My energy will run out. I will dry up. My growth will become stunted.
I pray that we all find time to rest in the presence of Jesus and become filled with His love and spirit, so that we can keep putting one foot in front of the other in the service we were called to do.
This morning we enjoyed breakfast with pastors Mark and Mike. It was a great time of fellowship in Normalville.
We thought we had creatws the top of the mountain, but there was still more to climb.
The weather predictions were correct! Cool, rainy and foggy was the order of the day. The wind was a consistent reminder of the chill in the air, but we pressed forward.
Along the way we had a surprise visit from some folks from Trafford, spent some time at Wesley Chapel with the Pastor Lester, his wife and aome folks from the church.
We found ourself ahead of schedule in spite of the weather.
But by evening the weather had taken its toll on our bodies and left the road quite wet. We decided to stop 5.6 miles shy of our goal for the day and drive into Somerset.
Once we made the decision the sky opened up and the rain came down harder than all day. It was the right choice. When we arrived in Somerset the rain stopped.
We have been blessed with a hotel room for the night and a chance to worship and share tomorrow at Somerset First.
As we reflect on the day it was another great day. We also remember that God’s goal for us was never 520 miles as much as it was to promote health, surround the conference with prayer and to connect with the wonderful communities.
We cannot do any of those fully behind our desk, in our pew or in other idle ways. We can’t be totally mindful of prayer with our electronics and fast-paced schedules. And we cannot be connected with our community at 35-70 mph…maybe not even fully at 3 mph.
Tomorrow how about we all get up and move, spend focused time in prayer and slow down enough to enjoy one another.
It was good that the past two nights Justin and I were able to stay with family. Tonight we received incredible hospitality from Pastor Mark and Karen and the congregation of Normalville UMC.
We have met amazing folks along this journey. God is beyond good!
Before the walk began I bought a boonie hat. The one with the flap that hides in the hat or covers your neck to help keep you cool. (My new hat got some chuckles, but it works great.)
The hat’s tag implied that it was “one size fits all”. Ha! The reality is that the chin strap adjusts and the cord around the hat adjusts. It is only one size fits all after you “make” it fit you correctly.
This morning our journey began in Hopwood at the base of the Summit. As we travelled up route 40 we left a town, entered into the mountains, passed through farming communities, up higher into the mountains and into a rural community.
As we walked I began to think about the “quick fix” ideas, the universal plan that fits everything, the latest trend that will order your life or ministry. Guess what? There is no one size fits all. We have to work at things to make them fit. We have to know what we are fitting it on. We have to be engaged in the process.
As I follow General Conference, I realize that there is not one fix, one resolution, one piece of legislation that will fit everywhere. What we need is real work, real understanding of each other, and a real willingness to be engaged in creating a solution. (Praying all the delegates have safe travel to their homes from General Conference.)
Guess what? As I walked and thought I realized the same is true for the each of us individually.
List one: Miles walked Day 1: 27
Day 2: 24
Day 3: 24
Today: 11 a piece
When Scott and I started thinking about doing this, the motivation started as, “Do you think we could walk 500 miles?” It was an exciting thought, almost romantic. Walking around the conference had a certain macho ring to it.
But it took a toll on us. And we had to slow down. We now have a car and today we walked relay style. Scott walks 1.5-2 miles and I drive ahead. Then I walk the same distance while Scott drives ahead. All the while we are watching out for each other on the tracker and keeping in touch by phone. I won’t be able to say that I walked 500 miles.
List two: People interacted with on the walk
Day 1: 0
Day 2: 4
Day 3: 2
We needed a reason to do the walk. We prayed about it and came up with health, encouraging community interaction, and praying for the Conference. I had the blessing of sitting down with Diane Olson, pastor of Brownfield/Hopwood. She shared with we the joys of serving the churches there. Scott was walking a leg of the walk having his own encounters.
I may not walk 500 miles. But how important is that compared with making connections through Jesus?
It has often happened to me that God works through my imperfect motivations.
Has that happened to you?
Soooo…We made it to Jefferson today. It was a rough day. Our bodies are adjusting to the rigors of near constant movement. We are getting there (folds hands and raises eyes toward God).
I have learned that I need about 30 steps. My feet hurt, my legs are stiff, getting up takes more than a couple moments. The first several steps don’t always land where I want them to. The next several are more hopeful, as the legs start to find their stride. After that, the pain subsides and it’s down to business.
Getting started is by far the most difficult part if the day. But if we didn’t start we wouldn’t experience the blessing we have.
A big “Thank you”, to Oak View UMC for your show of support and your prayers. I am sorry we weren’t there to experience it. I was comforted to hear about your passion for the Lord.
Today was full of surprises and many blessings. We are still overwhelmed with the beauty that we are seeing and hospitality we are receiving.
We planned for everything, or so we thought. The right shoes, the right socks, the right gear and food supplies. But. Somehow we still developed blisters, small and large, on our feet. The socks were suppose to stop that. The shoes were to limit that. The Vaseline was suppose to ease that.
But…they appeared anyway. And each one helps us focus on the next step.
I, Scott, was surprised to find a rather intense pain in my right ankle. After receiving a ride from Hannah (Justin’s sister) Med Express found an old bone fragment from an injury years old had moved. I can still make the walk, but we have to adjust.
Adjusting is hard to do when you make all the decisions, but things don’t go according to plan. But, if we are focused on our goal and not on the preparations made we can avoid frustration and move forward.
The same is true with the unexpected surprise that looks to derail your progress. Focus on it we will freeze. Focus on a solution to overcome and move forward.
Adjustment and adaptation are always part of ministry. Don’t let yourself be frozen by frustration.
(We have made adjustments to the walk, but will be moving forward (just with a relay car). All is well. )
Watch for the new tracking link.
Day one has now officially come to an end. After miles of walking we learned a new meaning to “welcoming the stranger”. As we were overwhelmed with hospitality after a very long day.
We saw some beautiful landscapes and amazing communities for ministry.
We did learn that walking on a level hard surface for a long period of time is painful. What took this pains away were hills, rolling hills.
Sometimes it seems easy in the life of the church to stay on a plateau, to maintain what we have always had, but we feel, after today, that staying level wears the body down.
The good news is that climbing that hill that is before you, or your ministry, is likely the relief you need. Maybe it’s time to set aside our fears of what seems to difficult and boldly drive forward.
The tracking link code used today will remain the same for tomorrow.