I got into the office a little early - wearing the comfortable Friday jeans - and my boss hasn't given me a direction for the day, so I thought I'd use a little time to jot some much needed reflection.
I wrote on Monday that the blessings of the weekend were a whole different story, so here it is:
My friend and I wanted to visit Moody church the first Sunday we were here, but we underestimated how far it was and how long it was taking to get there. So, when we spotted a church sign, we ducked into a building, up an elevator and into a room of around 12 people for a small service. It was a great experience and the people were wonderful, but we were still in search of Moody... I was talking to my boss about it and she suggested Park Community, which is an offshoot of Moody, but less traditional. She said she finally found her church home there and she really liked it..... So, I suggested it to my friend and we got a group together for the 11:30 service. The message was dynamite.
I could tell that at the heart of this church was God's heart for reaching people with the gospel. Last Sunday, Jackson (pastor) started a new series called "The Great Investment." Prejudiced as I am against topical sermons, I ate it up! He used scripture from Jeremiah 29:4-7 (I could say so much here but you'll have to read, digest, and think about it if you want)
They have been praying about how God wants this city to be His and what part they have in His work - and they've set a goal to reach 1%. I know, to my small-town mind, I was like "that's all?" But they aren't just fooling around - 1% of Chicago is around 29,000 people. And they don't just want to hand out tracts, they want to witness the transformation through salvation and discipleship (by partnering and beginning with many other churches). This is something I can get excited about! The church has committed 25% of its budget to the cause of local ministry and I saw evidence of that right away when they handed out envelopes at the end of the service. We opened them to find different amounts of money. Jackson told us that we have been blessed with gifts from the Father in so many ways, but that we have to decide how to best be stewards of those gifts. I opened up to find $10 and I've been stewing all week about how to use it best... and today I realized that if I'm not careful I could bury it like the man with the talents.
Wow. So, I walked out of there and immediately found out about small groups I could plug into. I'm not wasting time, here:). But, God's blessings continued. We were waiting for the bus and it started to sprinkle. I offered to share my umbrella with a girl who was waiting beside me. We started talking and she had just been to the service, too. We quickly became friends. I found out she's studying at Columbia, but is from Kansas and spent last summer doing missions in Mexico. After that experience, coming back to Chicago and a dry community was super hard... She'd only been back for about a week, but that Sunday morning she went up and asked for prayer for fellowship. That was MINUTES before meeting us at the bus stop! God is good! We made plans to meet up again for the 20somethings small group that night.
The night was amazing - fellowship with sweet people, great leadership, and challenging discussion. My new friend and I talked afterwards about how amazing everything was and I ended up telling her about my job search dead ends. .. She told me to apply at the restaurant she'd worked at, Sullivan's. Super nice and super upscale (same owner as Del Frisco's, for any of you family who have heard the Nichols' rave about the steaks in NY). Well, I applied the next day, had an interview yesterday and GOT HIRED. It is a huge blessing to have work AND I talked to her last night and she's going back too, so we'll be working together!
Wow. I guess that takes me to right now, but I left a lot of blanks. I'm a jumble right now, but I am going to start in on some research. This microfinancing industry is quite complex! I think my brain is going to have to grow in order to store all these words!
Blessings today and always - REMEMBER who you are and WHOM you represent.
Keep the main thing the main thing.