Getting a little closer every day.
I don't get out much. A little over a week ago we held our leadership retreat and I volunteered to drive our church van for car-pooling purposes. I did a pre-trip inspection and started the vehicle and checked the mirrors. I dropped the shifter into reverse and began backing out of the very tight space behind our church. Did I mention, I don't get out much?
As the van crept backward, I tested the brakes and sure enough they worked fine so I continued. It started innocently enough; then the sound became distracting and nerve-wracking. Beep, beep, beep, beep beep.... (The further I drove backward, the faster the beeping occurred.) I actually spoke to myself in an audible voice and said, "What is that beeping sound?" Then it hit me. I was driving a van with backup sensors embedded in the back bumper. I was getting closer to an object and the warning signal was telling me so. Clearly one doesn't want to hit anything and the beeping allowed me to know I was still moving in the right direction but getting closer all the time. I double checked all rear-view mirrors and saw the car sitting behind me and avoided it with ease.
Pastors sense inaudible beeping of sorts from time to time. In our case, we welcome and want the beeping to turn into contact. Let me explain. Today before worship I received affirmation of a person coming closer to God through my pastoral care. They had been away from the faith community for a long time. It did my heart good to hear positive movement on the part of the individual. We pastors tend to experience those moments of elation and celebrate movement that brings people closer to the Almighty. (Even if the movement is measured in 1/32 of an inch.) Ultimately, if I have lifted Jesus Christ high, then he will move people a little closer to God. They will be moving in the right direction!
"But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32, NIV)
The new phrase at our church is "relational discipleship" and it simply means we're willing to journey with another person and help them find their way to a deepening relationship with Christ. Some days the movement is barely discernable and yet moving closer to God is still moving. How about you, are you moving closer to God and helping another person do the same? Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep!