This week I have been away for the third session of the Academy of Spiritual Formation. Our days have begun with a service of prayer followed by breakfast. Our two topics this week have been New Testament spirituality and spirituality and worship. Each day we have had an hour of lecture on each topic followed by an hour of silence for reflection followed by an hour of sharing. Our days have ended with a service of prayer and communion at 5:00. After supper, we have gone to covenant groups to discuss and reflect on all that we have heard during the day. This time is followed by a final service of prayer before retiring for the evening.
This time of worshipping, praying and learning is a rich gift with which you have blessed me. The first two sessions really lifted my spirit. This session has been a little different in that regard. While being here has certainly been a blessing, I have not heard nor experienced anything that thrilled my soul as much as what God did in our midst last Sunday.
Sitting in the back of the sanctuary, he left the pew almost before the congregation started to sing the last song. His parents were with him, but clearly he was making his own choice. Walking through the body of Christ, he came to Christ.
Already he had prayed to ask Christ into his heart to be his savior and lord. He had talked with his pastor about what he felt that God wanted, expected him to do. He wanted to join the church and be baptized.
Watching him walk, I recall the conversation that we had in my study a week earlier. He was as sure as any eight-year old could be that now was the time for him to commit his life to Christ.
Watching his determined strides carry him to the altar, I was moved by the wonder of it all. I remembered the day of his birth, praying then with his mom and dad that God would watch over him and grow him into a man of faith.
Everyone was standing and singing, but those near the aisle that he was walking could see what he was doing. I remembered the day we asked these brothers and sisters in Christ to help his parents teach him the stories of our faith. He has learned them and is learning them still.
Paul Harty coming forward to share his profession of faith would have been a glorious day all by itself, but there was more. After our benediction in the sanctuary, word came that the Spirit of God had moved in The Road service as well. Two young men, Mark Gaddis and Will Winters, had made their own professions of faith.
I cannot remember crying sweeter tears of joy. What a gift it is to know that God is with us and at work among us. What a delight it is to know that God is calling us and loving us. What a joy it is to know that God is redeeming us and saving us.
As we rejoice in the decisions these young people have made, let us be reminded that they are only beginning a journey. Let us remember that they, like the rest of us, are now engaged in a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others. Let us not grow weary of falling deeper in love with God.