On Sunday, I had the privilege of having lunch with Mike and Mary Palmer. Mike is the DS of the Missouri District, the dad of our MNU intern, Michael Palmer and my former pastor. Mike’s the 2nd of my former pastors to worship with us at TF, the first was Trent Tinker’s dad, Tim. And another former pastor, Dan Arnold, will be speaking at TF this spring.
Anyway, at lunch Mike was talking with me about church health. He said a healthy church, like any living organism, must do 3 things: 1) remove waste 2) Eat healthy food and 3) Reproduce itself. A church must be doing all three things to be healthy.
That’s good info about a church, but I’ve actually been thinking about how it applies to Erin and myself. With all the junk that’s been going on in our lives lately, we’ve been feeling pretty constipated. We’ve been taking in a lot of crap, so to speak and haven’t been able to get rid of it.
The other night Erin had quite the inspiration of exactly what we’re feeling. She said…, well, I won’t write exactly what she said because kids might be reading this blog. She borrowed the line of Cousin Eddy’s from National Lampoon Christmas Vacation. If you recognize the scene from this picture, you’ll know exactly what Eddie said. And it’s exactly how Erin and I have been feeling.
So I’ve been asking God, “how in the world do I get rid of all the crap inside of me right now?” And in his timely and graceful way, God has responded to my cry for help. You could say God gave me a big cup of exlax (think of the scene from Dumb and Dumber).
Everything came out this morning, while jogging through Atchison and walking around the Benedictine Abby. Acthison is a lot like my hometown of Ft. Madison, IA. It’s on a river, it has old and stately houses (along with some old dumpy houses), brick streets and sidewalks and beautiful old cathedrals. Like FM, Atchison is a very Catholic town, although not all the churches are Catholic. As I jogged along the brick streets looking at the old houses standing underneath maple trees in full color, my heart was softened.
But when I got back to the Abby (it’s a beautiful abby that could fit in anywhere in Europe) I walked along the river and found some amazing sights. There are several look out points over the Missouri River, some of which were a part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. And there are several trails down the bluff right up to the river. As I walked down one of the trails, the vines and foliage were breathtaking
At the far end of the monastery campus is a trail through the woods that has all the stations of the cross. When I was nearing the end of the path, the song Just to Be With You by 3rd Day came on my ipod. A song about Jesus going to the greatest lengths possible just to be with us. As this song played, I took a seat on a bench at the top of the bluff overlooking a bend in the river and a few tears came. Not much, not too much emotion, I’m not that emotional of a guy, but the cool breeze, beauty of the scenery, the sun on my face and the song about God’s love all combined to give me a feeling of release, security and peace. Thanks, God.