Saturday, October 31, 2009

This Week in Encouragement

On Wednesday morning I felt inexplicably funky. One of those days you're thankful for the liturgy because you don't have any more to offer than your physical presence and willingness to assent to the truth. Apropos that Martha G used the living dead as part of her sermon illustration. Eucharist, prayerfully received, always gives me a brief jolt of God's kindness. This week I also received prayer, which was from someone either insightful, listening to the Holy Spirit, or both. I mostly remember now that she prayed that God would remove doubt and fear from me. This helped me identify those thoughts as not from God and as barriers to his work, doubly so since he was pointing them out to me through her.

Friends of mind in Tallahassee sent the Trautmans and I a care package with encouraging letters, junk food and pictures of the Bodoh girls. Thanks friends! I remember my spiritual family in Tallahassee with deep fondness and appreciation. How many people get spiritual community like you during the quagmires of twenty-something pre-adulthood? I so covet all your prayers; I love it here at Trinity but it has still been a huge transition and this context is really helping me focus my spiritual growth. So I am not only coming into a new community, going back to school, learning Greek, becoming a member in a new church and trying to discern God's next step (with dramatic implications for the rest of my life)--I am also, with God's help, dredging the subterranean junk of my heart and dealing with it by his kindness and severity, providing a thick layer of spiritual warfare over it all.

Also, my sister blessed me with some prophetic encouragement the other day by sending me a list of attributes and promises the Lord spoke to her about me. It is good to be reminded of the good that God and other people can see in us; I am often my own worst critic. Especially meaningful was her connection of the Psalm 37:4 command/promise to delight yourself in the Lord and receive the desires of your heart with a specific desire of mine--more especially so since I haven often regarded that desire and that verse together! I love you Katie! :D

Last Saturday, before I left Jacksonville for Pittsburgh, some people close to me were sharply questioning my decision to move here. It was painful and frustrating. So I was in a weird mood as I went to board the plane and saw a mid-50s man with bushy eyebrows and carry-on luggage bearing the Anglican seal. I said to him, "Are you Bob Duncan?" He turned, smiled and said he was. I told him I was from Trinity and then we realized we shared both flights that evening.

When we disembarked in Charlotte, he was waiting for me at the gate and offered to buy me dinner during our layover. So for the next hour we chatted and ate Chili's. I really like him. We covered a wide range of subjects and covered a little of his personal history and a lot more of my own. I had the distinct feeling of being gently probed by the man who might ordain me in three or four years. After the discouragement before leaving, it was a blessing to have a "chance" encounter with the archbishop of American Anglicanism. It seems just one more step in the process of belonging to this new family. And speaking of my sister the prophet, she even said she hoped I would sit next to someone interesting after I wearily quipped that "There's never anyone interesting on commuter flights."

Lastly, I would like to point out that, save the archbishop, all this encouragement came by the way of women. Pick up the slack, brothers! Don't be outdone in the imitation of God. :)


Cassidy said...

Thanks for sharing, Mike. I enjoyed how you described God's refinement of you. Similarly, I found a quote that resonated with my heart and seems in tune to your blog in a biography of Amy Carmichael I read last week. In speaking of acts of faith, she says they are "accompanied by the anguish of doubt and desire which have to be brought again and again under the authority of the Master." Praying for you in perseverance and continued encouragement in the presence of God this week. PS- We miss you at Sunrise. Besides Aaron and me, we have an all new team this year and many new kids (mainly young boys, rambunctious, etc, etc).

Mike Rad said...

The anguish and doubt are deeply real. I so covet your prayers. :)