Making Me Proud

January 29, 2014

I love being surprised. Well, I love being surprised by good things at least. I had taken my weary mind on a plane to Chicago for the annual pastors conference I always go to, and even though the conference was just about to start with the Monday night banquet, I was already feeling the itchiness of introversion. Wanting to go up to my hotel room and sleep, play a game on my iPhone, read a book. But my itch would have to wait. The banquet was happening whether I was ready or not.

I found a colleague and an empty seat next to him and was catching up on his story of the last year when someone grabbed me from behind. I turned to see this young woman I had walked with as she finished high school and entered college. A young woman who had sat across from me many countless times, chips and salsa between us or coffee cups to in our hands, discussing the questions of life and spirituality that echoed in the caverns of her mind. A young woman who loves Jesus and it shows, but who wrestles constantly with what loving Jesus means for her life. 

This young woman has now graduated college and I was surprised to see her at this gathering for pastors. She had come as a guest of her alma mater and was spending the week being cared for and taught by the incredible campus pastor at North Park University. And she had searched me out.

We had breakfast two mornings later and after I was forced to shake away the image of a high schooler burned into my memory, I was able to look closely and examine the young adult she has become.

And I was proud. Mama-proud. Pastor-proud. Follower-of-Jesus-proud.

We spoke of our passions and the vision we seek for our lives. We caught up on stories from the years between our parting. We asked deeper questions that shook the places hidden away inside each of us- places that cry for the attention only “deep calling to deep” can give.

Our relationship in the past had been pastor/church member. This day it became friends, fellow pilgrims on the journey toward faith, and partners in all that we dream faith can be and do.

And I was proud.

In the last months, I have had these moments where I’ve found myself looking into a reflection of my past journey. Visiting the churches of my first calls and talking with friends who have continued to age and minister with the beauty that only comes from a deep drink of grace every so often.

And this week everything came full circle. Looking into the face of a woman from my last call knowing with joy that God had indeed continued to finish the work he began in her. She confirmed to me that the answer to all the questions of that time are always, “grace.” And we need not worry such memories to death. All is grace.

To my dear young friend still chasing a God who beckons her deeper, to my dear young friend whose beauty is fueled by a heart that longs for more, to my dear young friend who dared to venture to this conference and hope that she might find me and grab me from behind… Thank you. And thank Christ in you… The hope of glory.

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