Here’s a photo of me and the Vineyard Normal gang at Steak n Shake after the YA conference.
The Vineyard Champaign hosted a Young Adult Conference last weekend that was really cool. Steve Nicholson, who is the pastor of the Evanston Vineyard and serves on the national board as the Church Planting Coordinator (lot of titles!), was the keynote speaker for the conference. I had decided that I wasn’t going to attend, but something was telling me (um, that would be God) to go to the Friday night session. As soon as he started speaking, I knew why. I have been going through a really rough time during the last month. Not anything outward, but a lot of “stuff” going on. I won’t go into detail, but it was like his speech was written for the exact thing I was going through. Amazing! God is simply amazing! He focused on some verses from 2 Corinthians 1:3-9. I’ve read these before, but I know when I read them, it wasn’t really relevant to what I was going through then. This time it was and through Steve talking about what he’s gone through, what the Apostle Paul went through and is talking about in the passage, and through other stories that Steve shared, I pretty much had a revelation of what had been going on with me that last month.
It basically comes down to this: As we grow closer to Christ, we will begin to experience some of the suffering and pain He experienced, and through this we will grow closer to Him and be a comfort to others because only then can we really relate to what others are going through. And, as we go through these times we will come to a point where we stop relying on ourselves and rely soley on God. I had realized before that these are times I need to be patient and persevere, but that was only part of it. I not only need to persevere through these times, but embrace them and thank God for allowing them to happen. This is what Paul is saying in this passage and so many other places throughout the New Testament.
Of course, knowing this and doing this are different things, but this truth rang in my ears, my mind, and my heart as I was listening. God is cool! This truth seemed to affect many people there since about 40 of us came up for prayer about it. To further confirm this truth and conviction of my heart, Steve Nicholson comes through the crowd and grabs me to sit and pray with him. I tell ya, I think God definitely knows I’m thick-headed because when he wants to change something in me or tell me something, He sure makes it blatant and comes at from many angles. 🙂