Monday, November 24, 2008

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. ~ Aldous Huxley

I had a major epiphany in church yesterday and I'm not even sure where to start.

When Tom and I moved here in 1993, we started going to a large, very well established United Methodist Church. We chose that church mostly because a friend of ours was one of the pastors there and encouraged us to attend. We attended because we like Bob and we later joined the church because we liked it.

In May of 1994, we learned that Bob would be leaving our church, but he approached us and encouraged us to attend services for a brand new United Methodist Church. They ~ maybe 50 or 60 people ~ were meeting in a very small chapel/center owned by the university. We were hesitant, but we attended a couple of their services and we loved it.

We continued to attend the services with the smaller congregation and as the congregation grew, we moved our services to a larger borrowed facility at a local college, essentially a classroom with stadium seating. We didn't care. We loved the congregation and fellowship and each person participated as much and as often as they were able. Bob's sermons were always thought-provoking and positive.

Within a year or so, our congregation was beginning to outgrow it's borrowed classroom, but our offerings were steady and we were ready to build our own church. We purchased a plot of land at the edge of town, hired an architect and the rest is history.

On Easter Sunday, 1995, we attended a sunrise Easter service on the property where we were soon to break ground and build Grace United Methodist Church, and our first official service in our new church was November 1996. forward. We moved out of Conway, but continued to drive in for church on Sunday for quite some time. But, you know how it goes. The long drive becomes tedious after a long week of commuting to Little Rock for work. On the weekends, there was much more to be done at home after moving to the 10-acre farm. We had ducks, geese, chickens, sheep to care for, 4-acres to mow every week during the spring and summer, and we were building our dream house. Church took a back seat. We talked about attending a church closer to our house, but we never did. One day, we finally just stopped going altogether. Then we moved to Incline Village for a year; then came back to the same house we couldn't sell with my mom in tow; then mom passed; we finally sold our house and farm and moved into town; then started remodeling our house; then bought the flip house to remodel... You know, yada, yada, yada...excuse after excuse after excuse.

Two Sundays ago was the first Sunday we attended Grace in all those years and I felt flooded with memories. I loved the beautiful windows that were given to our church by another church in Luxora, Arkansas. The kneeling rails and oak alter that Tom built and I finished and gold-leafed still stand proudly in the chapel. But, I still felt a little disconnected. I didn't recognize hardly anyone, not even the pastor. Bob has since moved on to the Arkansas Conference.

Yesterday we attended Grace Church for the second time. This time we had a group of college students from Arkansas Tech University leading the service with song and sermon (in words typical of what I think would be a college student's daily conversation). The songs were uplifting and the "sermon" given by a senior science student was point on. He talked about what he believed, that it was all "on you" to make the right choices every moment of every day, sort of like the game "Tetrus," and how great he felt when he thought he made the right choices just for one day, like playing the game, "Guitar Hero," because it is so hard to get 100%. Then their director/pastor came forward and talked about "the moment" and I just started to cry and couldn't stop.

I was so embarrassed and I tried to compose myself, but the tears just kept coming and when the service was over I couldn't get to the car fast enough. I tried hard to understand what caused such a deep response in me and finally realized it was everything that has gone on in my life this last year, but it was also the crystal clear realization of each of those moments when I made decisions... some were wrong and some were right. It was kind of like my life flashing before my eyes at that very moment, but not in a negative way.

I tried to really analyze that whole experience (as only I can so thoroughly and painfully do), but I have come to the conclusion that I can analyze until I'm blue in the face; analyze (and agonize) over every single decision and I will still not always immediately know or understand the impact or outcome...whether I was right or wrong... until much later when all the circumstances and drama are fully played out.

So, in the end, maybe it's not the just the actual decision, right or wrong, after all. Maybe it's not even about the choices we had or the process we used to get to our decision. Maybe what is also important is the vision, goal or mission we are attempting to accomplish. What if what is really, ultimately, most important is our intent?

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