My family took a trip to Dallas and my daughter came home from Austin to go with us on our two day trip. In the past, we couldn’t take a family trip during the holidays because I used to serve as a Shepherd for the singles’ House Church and most of the members did not have a family in the U.S. I couldn’t imagine leaving them by themselves knowing they had no place to go. But this was the first holiday break since I started working as a senior pastor, and since all the busy work I had been doing was somewhat under control, I figured it would be a good time to take a break. Luckily, our trip was economical since we were able to book a hotel for a great price.
I do not like to drive long distances, but I took turns with my daughter this time so I wasn’t tired from all the driving. The roads were comfortable and the weather was great. We were also happy to see trees changing their colors in various shades even in Texas while we drove. But most of all, I was thankful that we could take some time off to count the blessings around us during Thanksgiving.
The biggest prayer for the 3 of us had been for our church’s well being, and we were very thankful that it has been so. We were thankful that the changeover in leadership went smoothly and that the church is fruitful in Sunday services, mission festival, House Church seminar, and in other events. Yet we all agreed that we have to pray even more and ever so humbly when there is no particular issue to worry about. I was also thankful that my daughter appeared to be proud of her dad for fulfilling his role as the senior pastor well.
One thing I did whenever I could on vacation was read “Shepherd’s Journal”. When I read this collection, I would always sigh or pray. There isn’t a Shepherd without a member who is struggling, and I would pray for them briefly as I went on reading about how they continued on faithfully in such situations. It would take all day just to skim through 180 journals submitted and since I have been taking my time to think and prayer, it has been a slow process. But still, I enjoy that time since I feel united with Shepherds as I read their journal.
A common story from the majority of the House Churches in the past weeks was about VIPs being invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Some wrote how excited they were to receive the invitation acceptance while others wrote how they failed to receive confirmation and were worried about what to do next. But as Thanksgiving approached, more stories emerged about the disappoint Shepherds felt when the VIPs changed their minds at the last minute saying they felt uncomfortable showing up. Reading such stories made me feel down and disappointed too, but at the same time I marveled at what kind of blessed life we were living. We are living in a time when everyone is so self-serving and we are keeping non-believers in our hearts, resting our hopes in them, and being saddened because of them. This kind of life is the life that puts a smile on God’s face, and this thought is the most comforting consolation of all.
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