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February 6, 2012

Sometimes, almost always when you least expect it

Submitted by:  Gina Yeager-Buckley

Sometimes, almost always when you least expect it (which, let’s face it, could be another blog in and of itself) you are the vessel for God’s voice.  For me, it’s generally when I’m the LEAST prepared or postured to do so.  This was the case last week.  While attending at a large annual conference for Christian Education, I spent many hours in a booth representing the ministries associated with my office.  Conversations were abundant. But late one evening when things were slowing down and folks were retiring for the evening, a woman, who introduced herself as a mother of a teenage son, stopped by the booth.  Let me first say, I LOVE parents of teens.  I love talking with them.  Listening to their stories.  Feeling halfway relieved that I am not one of them.  And, longing to be encouraging to them.  The mother of the teenage boy led with the following statement:  “I know what you are going to tell me and I don’t really want to hear it but I’m so desperate I am going to ask you anyway.”  My internal reactions, in order of their journey across my frontal lobe:  “Run!  Say the exhibit hall is closing!  Tell her you don’t feel well.  This is not going to be good.”  And then, I took the only step I could think of in that panicky moment and I said the silent prayer of the desperate servant, “O God, help me.” 

With the prayer came the slightest feeling of confidence, a sense that God might just insert a word of comfort and wisdom; so I invited the woman to sit down with me, in my booth.  Blissfully there were no other seekers of information while I listened to this longing mother share her heart.  You see, her son, coming in the door from a friend’s house and aware that shortly he had to depart for confirmation class, announced to his parents (both engaged in congregational ministry) that he did not want to go to confirmation any longer because he “does not believe that the God the church is asking him to follow was any better than his friend’s Jewish god, or his other friend’s Hindu god, so why should he be so arrogant as to say his God was the right God?”  The mother went on to describe her son as a “thinker” or “the kid who can logically argue his way through and out of almost anything.”  Okay, I thought.  I can do this.  I can listen.  I can share the mother’s heart and I can join her in the quest for accompanying her son in the most faithful way possible. 

The conversation between she and I lasted for a while.  And, that conversation would probably make a great submission for a theological or youth ministry blog.  But, what I’m thinking about today is the nano-second of time that transpired between the woman’s initial statement of pain and my internal reaction of fear.  What happened there was ... was what?  Grace?  Mercy?  God’s mercy on the heart of the intimidated evangelist?  The Holy Spirit moving in where my human brain and limited heart was not prepared for the seeker’s pain and doubt?  I’m not sure what it was.  But maybe it is what Marcus Borg, a modern day theologian, calls “the holy hunger for being who God needs you to be.”  Sometimes, your “voice” or in this case your willingness to pause for the possibility of mercy and accompaniment, is indeed a vessel for God’s healing power.

Tags: christian education, evangelism, god, ministry, parents, teens, youth


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