I smelled Christmas yesterday on the Creeper Trail in Virginia.
It was an anniversary affair for all five of us as we dawned bikes and set out easy and free through a canopy of sweet green.
Close to the top, just around a few of the bends, fir trees were growing in rows on farms, and their scent swept us up into the things of December. My mind turned to ornaments and mistletoe and Jesus.
We stood on precipices, squeezed into the tight booths of a tiny lunch cafe, yelled for the youngest to stop going too fast downhill, and looked in an old train depot filled with spikes, and tools, and barrels from ages back.
It was delightful.
With our anniversary falling on Sunday, however – it meant that we had to shirk our usual Sunday duties.
Our congregation was left in the very best of hands. Hands that would feed, and foster, and lead our church family well. But it felt funny to not be with our people on the first day of the week.
And what a marvel that is, really. We’ve only been here four months and I do feel like these people are our people through and through. Not in ownership, but in kin.
We have a fierce love and a strong desire for their edification and protection.
So Paul’s words in Colossians 2, our chapter for today, they hit us right on target.
If you feel so inspired, you can read an excerpt from chapter 2 here.
In this passage Paul is reminding the church to be encouraged, to unite in love, to know that knowledge comes from being rooted in Christ.
He then pens an interesting line…
“I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments.”
What a timely meme.
I myself am seriously wading through a lot of jargon when it comes to faith. So many different camps, disagreements, approaches, and voices. I want to get it right. I want to understand. I want to have grace. But what I want more than anything is God Himself.
We live in heightened times when it comes to belief, righteousness, truth. And we live in an age that allows for everyone to pitch their two cents about it. If I’m messily groping my way through it, then the fine people in our church family are too. This tenders me towards them.
I very much care about what they are taking in, who or what is influencing their thinking, what kinds of pursuits they’re passionate about, and what voices ring loudest in the confines of their hearts.
Because what they take in, they put out.
And isn’t it true that what goes for the congregation, goes for children too? Parents are keen to be careful about what their kid’s eyes and ears are streaming… no matter how old or independent they seem.
Lord, help us to hover when necessary, meddle when needed, apply discernment in everything, and love all the while. Yes and amen.
The way Paul cares about the condition of the congregation in Colossae, his awareness that untrue teachings have circulated, his kind endearment to the people of God – it boosts me up today and reaffirms my own longings for those we care for here.
The odd ache I felt in our absence yesterday tells me that by God’s grace, something in our senses is tracking scripturally. This is supernatural and I’m exceedingly grateful.
The section of the Creeper Trail we biked yesterday, ended in a town called Damascus. Yes. That bike path we peddled headed straight for a town with the same name as the town Paul (then Saul) was heading to when Christ revealed Himself to Paul (then Saul) as a real, living Savior all those centuries ago.
It wasn’t missed on the pastor, or his wife here.
If any passing by this way today need an experience like that, a clear moment in time where God breaks in unadulterated and obvious, I pray now, before I even push publish on this post, that you do indeed get it.
And if there’s anything that is causing conflict or chaos in your faith these days, if there is anything that’s been twisted off kilter in some cunning dial change somewhere, or if circulating ideas are leaving you wondering somehow – know that you aren’t the only one. And know that I’m praying over that, too.
It’s a privilege to walk alongside all of you here. Thanks for letting me.
I plan to be back Thursday friends.
Love and revelation and blessings to you until then.