Last week was the Mission Alive Church Planters’ Retreat. It was a good weekend for rest and spending time with other church planters from our network. We spent most of the weekend learning about and practicing the prayer of examen as a spiritual practice for discernment. I found it to be very helpful and a means be which I believe I heard from God.
The prayer of examen, as we were taught, is simply talking to God about the best and worst of your day/week/situation/etc. It is sharing what was most life giving and what was most life draining, or what you were most thankful for and least thankful for. Then spend some time reflecting or meditating to see if you sense God directing you in any of it.
The last day of the retreat, we were asked to spend an hour praying the prayer of examen individually over the time we had spend on the retreat. I began to telling God about the things I was most thankful for and was feeling pretty unspiritual. I was most thankful for the rest I was able to get, getting to watch a clip from the movie Gran Torino, and getting to play a game of dominoes called 42. Pretty unspiritual, huh?
For the past year and a half, Amy and I have been waiting on the Lord. We have been waiting for discernment on our next church planting project. We were hoping and expecting for get some news that would propel us forward one way or another while we were at the retreat. The call came Friday. But instead of finding out what we were hoping to hear, we got a message that we would find anything out for another week or two. If you have been keeping up with our story, you know that our church planting residency will be finished at the end of this month along with the bulk of our financial support. Another week or two gets us pretty close to the end of August.
Now back the retreat – As I was thanking God for all the seemingly unspiritual things from the weekend, I began to tell God why that game of 42 was so much fun. (If you know how to play 42 keep reading, if not you might want to skip down to the next paragraph) I was telling God specifically about a hand that my friend and opponent, Marshall, bid 84 (2 marks) on. As we played the hand, it was really fun because it was coming down to the last few dominoes to see who would win. My last three dominoes were the 2/6, 4/4, and 5/5 – pretty good dominoes to have if your trying to set someone. I played the 2/6 first which I didn’t think would be useful but wasn’t sure. The next hand I had a dilemma. I didn’t know what to play until my partner played the 4/3 so I knew the 4/4 would be of no use anymore. Then Marshall led the 5/0 which played our perfectly for me to set him with the 5/5.
It came down to the last domino and I had played mine just right to be able to win the hand. As I was telling that to God, it struck me – sometimes it can be really fun for things to come down to the last play. The phone call telling me to wait came back to my mind. It appears we are taking this church planting residency down to the last domino. I think God is telling us to enjoy this game. I think God wants me to know that he is going to help me play the right dominoes. And I think God wants me to know that if you never play life down to the last domino, you might never experience the joy of playing well.
Here’s to playing well and trusting God to the last domino!