Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual Christian Community Development Associationconference for the first time.
I am so grateful I was able to have this experience.
CCDA is an organization dedicated to “seeing Christians fully engaged in the process of transformation in their communities.” This mission obviously aligns very closely with BFJN’s own vision and our mission of calling and equipping Christians to live generously and do justice.
The theme of the conference was WellBeing and over the course of our five days together we considered how to pursue our own wellbeing and that of our community. It was wonderful to be among organizers, activists, pastors and others who work to seek God and his shalom in the world and hear messages about how to take care of ourselves – an acknowledgement of how hard and taxing the work can be. It also connected so well with considering how to create, encourage and rebuild communities that are well – truly well. This wholistic approach made the process that much deeper and more impactful for me.
The opening night speaker set the tone. He was, as my daughter would say, FIRE! Not only did he have an engaging and dynamic style, but what he had to say was prfound and made me think about so much of how I frame my work and my own personal walk with Jesus. I won’t try to share the entirety of this amazing message but will share one of my takeaways.
The talk was based on the story of Jesus calming the storm. It is found in all the synoptic gospels, but our speaker mostly used the Luke version (Luke 8:22-25). The story is basically – Jesus slept, storm came, disciples freaked, Jesus was Jesus. All good. What the speaker emphasized was that proximity to Jesus is not everything, not the only thing. The disciples were there in the boat with him, had been with him for a while at this point and yet they still panicked in the face of an admittedly daunting situation. Now I am thinking that I would have panicked too, a storm in a boat out on the water– presumably without life vests and the ability to call in the Coast Guard. Yikes. But they had JESUS in the boat and though their proximity to him was not sufficient to calm their fears their knowledge of him and relationship could have been – and it can be for us. Jesus was unworried because Jesus knew Jesus was in the boat! The storm could not conquer. As we cultivate closeness with Jesus and learn more about who he is AND stay proximate to him in our lives we will be better able not to avoid storms but recognize that the God we serve and who calls us his is with us throughout.
I am woefully negligent at times when it comes to cultivating that closeness to Jesus that allows me to recognize his power over and seek his comfort in my own storms. But I know this is an important practice and I hope I can continue to grow in it.