This week I attended a Faithwalking Retreat at the Northwest Forest Conference Center outside of Houston. This is the second time I have done FW and was invited this time to prepare for helping to lead future FW retreats. FW is a learning opportunity like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Like a lot of retreats it can become something that you do and then put away thus becoming a great experience for 48 hours that doesn’t really reap benefits otherwise. The challenge is to stay “in action” with the tools I’m acquiring.
The tools I’m acquiring to stay “in action” have mostly to do with getting real honest about the way I “be” in the systems that I inhabit. For me—like anyone—the systems are my family, the church I pastor (or attend) and other places where a community exists made up of people who know my name and recognize me. In each of these places I have a way of being that either inhibits or fosters the future that I want, the future that God hopes will come to pass in and through me.
Jesus said something that is recorded in John’s gospel that I think gives hope to everyone who is stuck in patterns that lead us to despair about ever being different or ever experiencing the wholeness that God has in mind for us: I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12). For me this has less to do with “turning water into wine.” It has everything to do with learning to live a life that is whole and full in such a way that the future that God wants for your life and for the world comes to reality.
In large part FW is about becoming present to the things in one’s life that keep you stuck in patterns that are hurtful, or debilitating, or sinful. In essence, it’s about becoming present to your habitual disobedience where following Jesus is concerned. Identifying those things—and really being honest and authentic about it—becomes a beginning point for a person to experience the abundant life Jesus promised for those who followed him.
I am thankful that I am a part of a community of people made up of many who provide the grace for people to be in process on stuff like this, for their pastor to be in process. I covet your prayers (as I also pray for you) that God would complete the work God has begun in me.