Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On my trip to Stonington, Maine last year I was able to visit several of the churches in the village. One of them, the Nazarene church hosted a total of 9 of us the first morning service I attended there (not counting the kids in the basement for Sunday school). The pastor, a dear man named John Hawkins welcomed me warmly after the service and visited with me briefly.

That evening at the Lenten Service at another church in the village (they rotated the evening service from one church to another during Lent) Pastor John invited me to sit with he and his wife Falene, which I was happy to do. At the conclusion of that service we were talking again and he leaned into me to deliver what seemed a very personal message..."Love is the key. The lonliest man on earth is the man who can't or doesn't love others."

We had been talking and discussing the plight of the lost, but this message seemed somehow different from the thoughts just concluded. I couldn't help but sense a whisper from the Holy Spirit through his humble servant John, a man of passion for the poor and lost who hadn't let a slight stutter keep him from becoming a minister of the Gospel. I was a single man on a somewhat remote island about as far off-season as I it could be, maybe he assumed I was running from something - God, myself, I don't know, but the statement hit home and I know I left the church with a vague, uncertain smile on my face not knowing for sure what to say in reply.

That comment, or challenge, set the stage for one of the best months of my life as I experienced not just the place, but the people of Stonington and Deer Isle. I went to their meetings, worshiped and sang with them their choirs, visited in homes and shared meals and generally experienced love in a whole new way in a village far from home and anything, or anyone that I knew.

Being basically an introvert and homebody, I do have problems reaching beyond myself unless it is with family or close friends. Had I spent the month as I had anticipated, isolated in a cabin reading and writing or just photographing the beauty of the area, I would have missed out on so much and I would have truly experienced little.

While there are times in our lives that we need this down-time to recharge, reset priorities or seek direction - don't be closed to the Lord's leading or you might just miss out on the best time of your life - and miss the chance to make some wonderful friends. Had Rev. Hawkins not "challenged" me with those words - whether that was his intent or not - I would have seen a lot of beautiful places, but would have missed the true beauty of the region, its people.

Act out in love today!



At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You, God, for challenging us when we least expect it. And for providing for us when challenged.

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Brad, what an eye opener. I have become sort of a recluse also. I have 4 kids, I homeschool, and I feel "safe and comfortable" amid the walls of my home. I feel like I am not capable of having "adult conversations" anymore, and kind of feel like a child who is not being listened to when I try. Thank you for showing us that we are missing out on so much.

God bless you;

Linda Anderson

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God truly works through everyone if we respond to His leading. Love is the best gift we can give and the best gift we can receive from another human being. It is God-given and it is meant to be shared! Thank you, Brad, for sharing a bit of yourself, a bit of God's love and blessings in your life with all of us while the "gang" is gone sharing their gift of God's love with others.

Blessings and peace be yours today.


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