Terry Wardle is professor of spiritual formation at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, and holds a D.Min from Fuller Theological Seminary. Pat, MaryHelen and myself have been up there to learn The Ministry of Formational Prayer from him. I have to say he is plum crazy, but in a good way, though. He conducts frequent seminars on emotional healing for counselors, pastors, therapists and other caregivers. He's a caregiver’s caregiver, and he's very good at it. Terry is also a gifted writer and has a new book out called Untamed Christian Unleashed Church: The Extravagance of the Holy Spirit in Life and Ministry. I got it hot off the presses on Monday and have had a hard time putting in down. He has a passion for the church and its people. In this book, he talks about positioning yourself to be changed. What we do and the choices we make position us to be changed. They put us in the path of potential transformation. It's not about your performance, your striving or your hard work at being spiritual that makes you spiritual. We have been told that reading your Bible will change you. Terry (and now I) believes that reading your Bible doesn't change you any more that reading the Koran makes you Muslim. It's important to read your Bible, because what it does is position us before God for transformation. "It puts you in a place where God is known to move, and by being there you have the possibility of a transforming engagement with Him." (62) So we should be where God is known to show up—places like Scripture, prayer, gathering in worship, in service, that kind of thing. God alone holds the power to change us into the image of Jesus. All our hard work, performing and striving doesn't do anything—anything positive, at least. Our part in this is to position and surrender before God. To the degree he chooses, God meets us there and works the miracle of transformation. Is that not simple?
All that to say that I feel like a fish that is flopping around in a very small puddle of water right now. I have made myself too busy with stuff and working hard to plead with God to show up. Then I got an invitation to retreat. I have reached out to a small group of women in Vessels for the Lord. One of these ladies is a retired pastor and full of love for the Lord. She invited me to spend the weekend up at Mt. Eagle in Clinton, Arkansas, with about 75 ladies from her church in Searcy. The more I thought about it, texted Alex about it and read Terry's book, the more I wanted to go. Going someplace where I don't know anyone, spending the night, eating and whatever was something that I, in the past, wouldn't do. Knowing that I need to position myself before the Lord to be changed by Him and that this is a place where God does show up—I'm washing clothes and packing stuff now! So my spirit is light as I just prepare to meet God. Actually, I'm asking Him to prepare me for Him.
I work at Coldwater today. Alex will be home this afternoon, and we will have a quiet dinner and fill each other in on what has been going on in our lives since Monday, when he left. Since I won't be at church on Sunday, I don't need to go to choir practice tonight, and that has some freedom attached to it and maybe some water to help out the fish in me.