Today is the day in the year of the church calendar when many Christians celebrate All Saints Day. This is a day that is typically set aside for thinking about those mothers, father, brothers, and sisters in the faith that have gone before us and that are now enjoying the other side of eternity. It's a beautiful day, as being a Christian was never, ever meant to be a thing of isolation. Even when we practice solitude, we are doing it in celebration with the Church. After all, Jesus died not for just me or just you, but for His whole church.
Several months ago, I was at a one-day ministry conference at a local church here. One of the speakers talked about the importance of remembering certain people and times in our lives....the moment that we knew how loved we are by God, the moment we knew that we wanted to commit our lives to loving Jesus, the moment we knew that we were called to vocational ministry, etc.
As I reflected that day, I remember thinking about so many people and experiences that will forever mark my life. I thought about professors from college and other experiences from college that shaped my understanding that I was called to ministry in some shape or form (and ironically, the day of this conference was the day that my alma mater announced its closing. but that's a whole different can of worms...). I thought about family members (particularly my grandma, Evelyn Middleton) who prayed for me and reflected the love and passion of God to me, and encouraged me to give my life completely to God. I thought about so many other people I have been amazingly blessed to know... friends who love selflessly, married couples who have displayed for me what a Godly marriage looks like, ministry leaders and supervisors who have believed in me and shown me what a life of ministry looks like, peers in the same journey... the list goes on.
There's been a lot that has happened this week that I can't write about in a public space (hopefully in the next several weeks, though, I'll be at liberty to share), but these things have reminded me of God's calling on my life-and that it is never what I expect it to be. I've been reminded that our experiences of God are both dynamic and static...He is always the same, yet always revealing how He desires us to change and become more like Him. And it's been through the lives of the community and the lives of the saints in my own personal life that I've watched Him work so often.
Since I've started the journey of physical transformation, here's a verse I've been reflecting on a lot:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:1-3
We are surrounded by the Holy Spirit and by His witnesses. These are reminders that God is forever with us, always working, always seeking to transform us into people who are intimately seeking His face and His Kingdom.
We're not alone.
What an unbelievable gift.