What I'm Reading Today: James 5
The last five months have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. While that's been true on several fronts, there's one area in my life where that's been particularly true. That area has to do with a special celebration the local church I serve has undertaken.
On January 15, 1961, our church welcomed a guest preacher. It was a gentleman who happened to be celebrating his 33rd birthday that day. You might have heard of our guest preacher – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This January 15 will mark the 50 anniversary of that special experience – Dr. King's very first appearance in the San Fernando Valley!
In order to celebrate the occasion, our church wanted to pull together a series of events that would be open to the general public. Our thinking was it would be a great opportunity to collectively recommit ourselves to the vision that Dr. King lifted up for us all. So last March we started pulling together folks from throughout the community to start the planning process for the celebration.
Since we first started the planning process, there have been lots of ups and downs.
We started our planning process by dreaming big. We explored the possibility of bringing in keynote speakers for the weekend like First Lady Michelle Obama or the President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, Rev. Geoffrey Black. Both individuals politely declined our request. That triggered a change in our thinking as we began to prepare for a smaller opening dinner event.
Then we started pursuing the idea of pulling together a Saturday morning service project that would tie in with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 15. We explored the idea of working along the canal that snakes through large portions of the Valley. The logistics of such a project soon became overwhelming so we started exploring other opportunities.
We even had visions of pulling together the first march on MLK weekend in the Valley. Despite some curveballs that have been thrown our way, thankfully that dream is still alive.
While it has been impossible to realize all of the ideas we first brainstormed last March, there will still be a wide range of events offered to the community that weekend.
All of this has taught me the importance of being balanced in my approach to projects such as this. Several times in the roller-coaster planning process, I've had to stop and connect myself with the sort of energy the book of James points us toward. "Take the old prophets as your mentors," James advised. "They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course!"
Through the planning process I've learned to do a better job living into the wisdom of those words. For while things may not be unfolding in exactly the manner I would have anticipated, there have been plenty of wonderful surprises along the way that have convinced me that the final product will be even better than the one I was anticipating last March.
Perhaps there is a project or a relationship that has been causing you extraordinary levels of frustration – so much so that you are on the verge of giving up. If that's the case, take a few moments and think twice about your decision to throw in the towel. Ponder the gifts that might reveal themselves if only you have the strength to "stay the course."
Til next time …