I awake this morning to finish my time in Lexington, KY and head to Cincinnati, OH, for an all-too-brief one day visit. But this was a late add-on. I’d intended to go straight to Millersburg, OH today, but God opened some doors in Cincinnati and the people in Millersburg were generous enough to give up one of their days so I could hang out in Cincinnati. I am very much looking forward to the connections there.
This is my second time in Lexington and what I appreciate is how much deeper the conversations go with those I met the first time around about a year ago. It seems when I arrive somewhere for the first time the conversations seem to revolve around issues about theology, church, and Scriptural understandings. Only later do the conversations turn to life—how people are sorting out their own journey and how they are engaging God in doing so. Yes, I’ve been with lots of new people this trip, too, but the conversations that have come with those I met previous are a delight. I enjoy seeing growth in people’s lives as well as fleshing out their story more.
These four days have been a whirlwind. We started out with day-long open event for whomever wanted to join us and we used the building of a local congregation and some of their people joined in. Over the days that followed I have been with old friends from my college days, shared for a few hours about marriage with a group of young marrieds at an Alliance fellowship, shared with a seminary class about Finding Church and The Shack, helped a good friend with a novel he’s writing about the civil war, spent some time with an Army Ranger who has just returned from Afghanistan, a young wife whose thirteen-year old sister just passed away in a tragic accident, and three other gatherings with people as well as numerous other lunches and dinners with various people who’ve wanted to hang out together. I’ve been in so many different conversations the past few days that have enriched my life, and hopefully theirs.
Yesterday afternoon I met with a judge and some of the young men he meets with weekly at the local Panera. It started a few months ago as he had lunch with a man in his twenties and shared with him how at 30 he everything about his life looked successful on the outside, but he was dying inside. An older man somehow recognized it, connected with him, and helped him find a better journey. The young man he was with obviously wanted the same engagement. So the judge sent an email to half a dozen young men, explaining where he’d been at at 30 and offered to get together to start a group if others would find the same time to be helpful to them. Well, they jumped on it. Too many of us live in isolation, either needing encouragement or having encouragement to offer and not finding space to do it in. These have found that space. They just get together after work on Tuesdays at Panera to talk about their journeys and to encourage each other. I love those times.
But now it is on to Cincinnati. Recording a podcast this mornign for a friend, having lunch with someone I met years ago in Las Vegas, and then heading to an evening of fellowship and sharing with people I’ve never met, but who have been reading some of my things. I am amazed at the life I get to live and the people God lets me know. It is really worth crawling out of our comfort zones and connecting with people who are on a marvelous journey of learning to live in the Father’s affection. Ask God to connect you, too to people around you that you can either encourage or be encouraged by. Hopefully you’ll discover both, even with the same people. Befriend them and let the relationship take its course. That’s how his church grows in the world.