Wednesday, June 23, 2004

What I Learned On My Weekend Vacation

Our Friend Jess!!!

Jasper Speaks:

There was more to our weekend in Rhode Island than just the wedding we attended. The photo above was taken at Smokey Bones in North Dartmouth, Mass where we had dinner with our friend from Maine who lives in Rhode Island, Jessica, our friend from Missouri who lives in Connecticut, Chad, our friends from Maine who live in Maryland, Colin and Pam, and our friends from Maine who still live here, Bob and Jen. WHEW! Anyway, that was a great night. Jessica is like the little sister I never had and we love her a lot! She is so funny and a great Christian woman who is seeking God's will. We are always refreshed when we can be with her!

Chad is one of Kendra's oldest friends. They grew up in the same church and went to the same school from kindergarten on. He is a very nice guy too. He moved to Conneticut last fall. He moved there for his work. He is single and I know it is hard to be away from everyone you know even if you are married. So it has been hard for him. We wish we could see him more often.

Colin and Pam were the Youth Pastors (volunteer) here before we came. They are funny and sweet and we love being around them. They did so much to make this ministry we inherited all that it is. They are huge cheerleaders for us!

Bob and Jen are our friends from church. Jen is the SP's daughter. They are our knockaround buddies. We are both DINK couples. DINK stands for Double Income No Kids. It is a "Bob phrase". So all that to say our dinner out with everyone was wonderful and refreshing! The whole weekend was a little weird for me because there were no teenagers I had to take care of!

But the point of this post is to talk about what God reminded me of during our trip. He has been talking to me about the importance of community lately. He began tugging at my heart about this during our weekend. It is fascinating to me that even after our trip is over, my quiet time all week has been dealing with community as well.

It all started on Friday night when we went to church with Jessica. It was the young adults meeting and it was so nice to see that she has made friends there. The Bible Study was on being transparent. It really talked a lot about the need we all have for accountability and honesty in our walk with Christ. This is something I am not very good at. Kendra will tell you that I don't share my feelings very often. I don't even tell her how I feel about things as often as I probably should. But when it comes to sharing with other Christians, I generally stink at it. My pride pushes through and I just don't do what I should.

There are a couple of reasons/excuses I have for why this is difficult but they always go back to pride at their foundation. The first is, I never want to be one of those people that are self-absorbed and talk your ear off about their problems. I have had many people like that in my life and I just want to be sure that I am not a burden. My pride wants me to be liked by everyone and no one really likes a whiner.

Next, is I don't want people to know my struggles. I know that at the core of this is that I don't want people to see me as weak. That is pretty stupid. I know that I am a weak, dirty sinner and I am covered by grace alone. I am okay with that. Still, for some reason I have a hard time telling others where my struggles are spiritually. It goes back to pride. I want to please everyone. I fear that I can't do that if I am vulnerable. Dumb I know, but it is how I feel.

So as I sat in this Bible study I was convicted of my own short comings in this area. Accountability is hard because I am a pastor. I have very few friends in Maine (like literally two) who do not go to our church. I find it hard to be transparent with someone who I am in authority over. I also feel like complete honesty can be compromised because you are going to be careful about certain things with someone with whom you attend church. Still, as I sat there, I was convicted I needed more than just the good people of Gewbertopia on the YS Forums to be my accountable friends.

Afterwards, when we got into the van to leave, Kendra and I began to talk about the Bible study. We were both convicted. It was also hard for us because this was the most (if not only) challenging Bible study we have attended in our four years in Maine. (Our issues with the lack of challenge in our church is an entire different blog discussion). I told Kendra that the message that was shared cut me to the quick. As we discussed it, I felt led to call my best friend from home, Jose, and tell him that I need him in this area of my life. Of course he wasn't home when I called but I left a message. The rest of the weekend the whole thing weighed on me. I knew I needed to fix this.

On Monday morning, while I was home alone on my day off Jose returned my call. After beating around the bush about how much I missed him, I finally got up the nerve to tell him what God had been telling me. Through the way that only God can work, I was amazed to hear that in his quiet time the past week, Jose had just written down that he longed for accountability. I was pretty much floored that God would tell us both the same thing at the same time. We discussed the issue of 1200 miles separating us, but we both feel strongly that we need to do this with each other. God will cover the mileage! I particularly need Jose because he is a straight shooter. At one point when we were discussing our prayer needs for this week, he called a spade a spade and when I said I was a jerk about something, he quickly (and lovingly) said, "No Jasper you weren't a jerk. You were a hypocrite." Ouch! But it was exactly what I need to hear.

The weekend was great. The time we got to share with people in Rhode Island reminded me of the importance of quality time with Christian friends. It was refreshing and so nice. The Bible study challenged me to change something in my life where I had not given my all to Christ. I am glad that God continues to reminds us of all we can be in Him. How great is it that God can take a simple weekend away and use it to move us closer to His will for us?

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