Saturday, November 14, 2009

Overwhelmingly Encouraged

This week was marked by a sweet experience, one full of emotion and deep gratitude for the Lord's work. My husband and I decided to attend the chapel service on Thursday morning at Southern's campus, the first either of us have been to in quite some time (I think it's been three years for me, a long time for someone who is still a student there). I took the morning off from work, and enjoyed sleeping in the extra hour or so and getting to slip on a pair of jeans rather than slacks (it's the little things). We excitedly left the house to drive to the school on that beautiful morning in eager anticipation of the chapel service. Why the excitement? After over four years of being at Southern Seminary, why now and why this chapel service? I took the morning off from work, and walked into Alumni Chapel hand-in-hand with my husband, because of who was going to be in attendance and preaching that morning.
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For those of you who may not be as familiar with our history, my husband and I met in college. We were pursuing the same degree and attending the same church when we met, and it is in that context that we began our relationship which has brought us to where we are today seven years later. While there are countless reasons we are thankful for that season being behind us, we still look back on those years with thanksgiving and humility for how the Lord was at work in our hearts individually. Those were formative years for me as a daughter of the King, as He used that season to teach me in an intimate way of His sovereignty and the glory reserved for Him alone. I began college as a young woman on the path toward liberal feminism and the mission field (unfortunate that those were paired together at the time), and graduated in 2004 with a completely renewed perspective on who I am in light of His glory and grace - hence the naming of this blog. He had completely rocked my little self-absorbed world, and I closed that chapter with a deeper dependence on and awareness of His grace and mercy.
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During this time the Lord was growing my husband as well, maturing and deepening his passion for the glory of Christ in the Gospel to be taught and proclaimed. It was during this time when He was impressing upon my husband the great need for the Gospel truth to be proclaimed in our local churches. He was surrounded by a solid band of brothers, some of whom he is still closely linked with today, and he was personally discipled and mentored by our university pastor at the time. Not only was Matt our pastor at church, but he was also the speaker at Grace Bible Study, a city-wide college Bible study students would flock to in droves every Tuesday night. The Lord used Matt as a key instrument in my husband's life, a significant role in the refining and maturing process as a minister of the Gospel. The level of respect partnered with the prayers for his ministry to be richly blessed run deep for us.
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This is the reason we took the time on Thursday morning, time away from work and the end of our last semester, to attend Southern's chapel service. Matt was the guest preacher that morning, and we would not have missed the opportunity to see him. After hearing him preach to this room filled to the brim with seminary students, we were reminded that some things never change. Even when years pass, ministry grows exponentially, and life happens, some things never change. Matt is still a man who, by the gifting and mercy of God, is wholeheartedly passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has no qualms about calling men to genuine repentance and self-examination, and is not afraid to say the things so many shy away from. On Thursday morning, he leaned forward and asked the young men if they are truly called to the glorious and painful ministry of the Word, or if they are liars and using the name of Jesus for their own success in this life. The aim of his message can be summed up in this: when you are being devoured by the lions in your ministry, will your affection for Jesus Christ be enough?
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We stayed afterwards to talk with Matt briefly, and my heart was encouraged as he pulled my husband into a bear hug. Life brings change...but some things remain. I was reminded of the bond they shared during our college years, mentor to student, close brothers with a common fire for the Gospel and glory of Christ. It was so good to see him, and he was glad to see us (and see us married now!) in return.
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This was our last chapel service to attend at Southern, and as we were exiting the chapel, I could not help but me moved at how appropriate it seemed for Matt to be the guest preacher that day. The man for whom we give the Lord praise in how he has been so instrumental in our lives is the very one who spoke this week at the end of our seminary experience. It was so moving, and I had no words that day for how truly encouraged we were to hear and see him. I was deeply impacted by how the Lord used that Thursday morning experience to say, "Look where I have brought you, how I have cared for and sustained you." Even when we are unaware, He is continually at work through events and the lives of those with whom He intricately and purposefully crosses our paths. I needed that encouragement this week, as this season comes to a close and the realm of the unknown draws ever closer. Praise the Lord for those men and women in our lives who have been so instrumental. No credit to them - all glory and praise to the One who is so articulate to bless us in the exact manner we need.

4 comments:

Leslie said...

I watched the video -- and I think I saw you! You had your eyes open during the prayer at the beginning...shaaaame, shaaaame. ;) jk

GloryandGrace said...

Leslie, that is so funny that you were able to recognize me in that video :) And yes, you found me out, I don't always close my eyes when I pray, but I'll be sure to keep that mind the next time there's the potential for a video camera to be pointed towards me ;)

So what did you think of the sermon??

Leslie said...

That was the first time I've heard a Matt Chandler sermon. I had only seen the clip "Jesus Wants the Rose." Anyway, I don't know if it's right to say that I enjoyed it -- it was hard-hitting! I was actually shocked at some of his statements. Not that he shouldn't have said them...but that he actually said them. I'm not in the ministry or married to it, but there were some good words in there for me, too. Particularly the part about strengthening my weak areas and recognizing that spreading the gospel is dangerous work.

Ashley said...

I enjoyed watching the video. One word: wow! I could've stopped listening after his opening prayer and had enough to chew on for a while! ;)