by Pastor Dave Lyle
I ended my last Grace Notes article with these words for a summer of Sabbath: “So, take it easy. And see where God takes you from there.” I would love to hear where God has taken you; let me share a little bit about where God has taken me this summer.
Our family travels ended up becoming a bit of a “Tour de Dave,” taking us back to a number of places that played a significant role in my faith and life. We travelled to Martin, Slovakia, with the Grace mission team, which reconnected me with faith mentors who continue to inspire me. We went to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Plover, Wisconsin, where I served my pastoral internship 18 years ago. (Can it really be that long ago?) And then we took our daughter Greta to Pine Lake Camp, one of the two camps at which my young faith was given flesh and bones, at which my vocation was discovered.
I was surprised by how meaningful it was to be in these places. Memories rushed over me. Relationships were renewed. And I was reminded just how many people have helped shape my life as a child of God. Being in these holy places helped me not simply to look back on things I had done, but also to see the ways in which God had been faithful. And if God has been faithful in the past, will not God continue to be faithful in the future?
Wherever your summer has taken you, I would encourage you to reflect back on your journey of faith. Where were you formed? Who poured faith into your life? Who has helped you live into your baptismal promises and to live out your baptismal calling? Whether or not you can go to those places and talk to those people, take some time to give thanks to God for them. And then look to the future.
For we do not look to the past to try to get back there, to try to recapture some imagined golden age. The past, after all, was full of problems and disappointments, too. We look to the past to give us strength for the present and hope for the future. In the book of 1 Samuel, Joshua pauses to raise an Ebenezer, a “stone of help,” to remind the people of God’s goodness. Joshua declares, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12) And if God has helped us so far, God will continue to be faithful. In Jesus, the promise is certain.
God uses us to preach this truth of hope into one another’s lives. Just as many people in many places have brought us to this moment, so God will use us in this place to bring many people to the next moment. As we dropped Greta off at camp, I could tell there was just a twinge of anxiety underneath her joyful anticipation. After all, she’d never been there before. But I had. So, I got down on my knees, looked her in the eye, and said, “Remember: Camp is a magical place filled with magical people where God does magical things.” And I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures in a place that is brand new to her.
And after all of this? Well, it’s good to be home. All the places I’ve been and all the people I’ve known have helped bring me to today. The same is true for you. And now, here we are together in this magical place called Grace. It’s filled with wonderful people, sinners once lost who have been found by God and brought together for this moment. Who knows what mysterious things God will do next?
Let’s find out together. In the meantime, I hope you’ll tell me about your summer. I have no doubt God has blessed you, and I’d love to hear about it. Thank you for blessing me by being part of my faith life, and for letting me be a part of yours.