My brother is one of my favorite persons. Over the past many years he has been an odd blend of friend, priest, absolute favorite guitar player, and sometimes has even played well the role of annoying brother.
One time he said to me, “I think there are rare moments when we are so in-step with the Holy Spirit that it is like cutting through paper with scissors without squeezing the blades together. When all you need to do is lightly push.”
A couple of weekends ago was one of those rare moments it seemed when all I had to do was lightly push. Susan and I were invited by our friend Brendon Gibson to lead a retreat at his church, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Susan and I tag-teamed the retreat inviting those present to consider the present circumstances of their lives as a curriculum God can use to woo them toward a full life of meaning, love and power.
I know at this point the right thing to do would be to elaborate on the particular themes of the retreat with an intention to nudge you toward some good learnings to consider for your own journey. Instead I want to take this space to share a few blessings I received as the scissors cut through the paper.
Like the plane ride there. You would think by now I would be over the fear of, “What if the plane goes down and this is it?” After a canceled flight due to an ice storm, and getting “booked” on another plane…a super cool one I might add…the kind rock stars might use we made it to Saskatoon. The flight came complete with a dozen Tim Hortons best.
Watching Susan facilitate and teach her portions of the retreat, and seeing people respond to her thoughts and questions was one of those 27 years later confirmations of the girl friend I was so attracted to in part because of how she did what she did in Jesus’ name.
Seeing Brendon call forth and bless members of a team from his church who were about to make their way to his own homeland of Saint Vincent to serve on a short term missions project. Brendon is a rare example of one who leads out of spiritual authority.
Being back in Saskatchewan I knew I was bound to run into important characters from my own story. Beautiful people like Lavern & Deb Arndt. Lavern was one of the first Christians I had met after Jesus got hold of my life. And shortly thereafter, Deb became Mrs. Arndt. Deb has had a hand in the editing process of the VP3 materials. They continue to be soul mates of the best type.
Some new friends Susan and I made at the retreat are Lorrie (left) and Lori (right). A couple that just seems to exude a joy that is real. their birthday is only one day apart (how weird is that). After coffee break we would be walking back into the sanctuary, and I would shout out, “Hey Lorrie/Lori!” just to see which one would turn around first. Sure enough they would both turn around at the exact same time.
In 1979 a friend a very influential friend of mine, Don Sabbadash, was killed in a car accident on his way home to take his wife to the hospital to give birth to their second child. Don lived his life shining forth the light of the gospel into my own. Even amidst the tragedy of her own life, Leila (above) shared the words of the gospel with me continuing the work of her husband’s witness. I consider Leila my spiritual mother. You can imagine my tear filled surprise when she showed up the Sunday morning of the time at Emmanuel.
Jane McPhee has facilitated several VP3 groups at Emmanuel. She is delightful to be around, a gifted investor in other people, and a sharp leader with some keen instincts. Every church needs a handful of Janes.
My sister Cynthia and her amazing husband Kevin attend Emmanuel. We got to be there with her on her birthday. The chocolate cake tasted even better than it looked. It is a gift whenever we get to spend time with Cynthia and Kevin.
As good as the weekend with the good folks of Saskatoon was, it was great to arrive home safely to our “words are not enough to describe son” Liam. He was well looked after by his cousin Micah in our absence.
The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us.
Lord, thank you for these words from the Psalms that capture the depth of my heart for this slice of time. May you grant me and those reading this hearts to see just how mindful you are of us…how deeply you long to bless us. Thanks.