Sunday, November 25, 2012

All I Want For Christmas

I was there in my office at New Hope on a rare day off from school and spending some time getting reacquainted with the place. For years I spent hours a day in here, arriving at 9 and leaving at 5 or thereabouts. Then we realized how much it was costing to heat and cool a building for one person and I started to work at home, coming here when Bunny came up to teach piano. She'd be here two or three hours most days. It still felt secure, safe - a place that I had filled with prayers, labored over words and the Word, and met with people to counsel or just talk.

I loved my office. My study. And to a large extent, it was my sanctuary.

But now?

I feel like a visitor. The books who were loyal and true friends seem distant, like people from my home town that I used to know well. The collections - of unit mugs from different military units, things New Hope people have given me over the years that I treasure, toys I kept on hand for the kids who would drop by, all just seem like stuff. I don't spend enough time here for it to feel the way it did. My bivocational status as a teacher means I am making a difference in the lives of the students at Eglin and still reach out and care for people through New Hope. It is a big help financially for the church, and an opportunity to show that the preacher is practicing what he preaches. But it is a different type of ministry and I'm still adjusting to it.

For thirteen years I have preferred New Hope Baptist Church - the people that have made it up and the mission God has given us - over everything else in my life save my wife and family. I came here because I believed that God was sending me here to work with Him and His people to make a difference. And we have - we are. Just last week while Bunny and I were gone, the people of New Hope worked together to produce and deliver a Thanksgiving meal for everyone they could find in our community that needed one.

And I believe that Bunny and I are doing everything we can do to see God's church move forward and reach more people in years to come. But the last couple of years have been tough and tougher. I sit here on a Sunday night praying that God will draw near and let me know how I can see His name glorified again in a growing church. The people I dearly love need that. I need that.

I know what I want for Christmas. I'm praying that Jesus will come alongside each of us and give us what we need to reach others in our circles of influence with His love. I'm praying people who have cooled off, tuned out, or been turned off to religion come to New Hope this Christmas season and see what a church family that's directed by God's will and sold out to making a difference looks like.

If you're reading this and that fits you, then come. Come worship with us. Come serve God and your neighbor with us. Come and experience the grace that is New Hope.

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