Have you ever gone to church and you walk into a full house, but when the pastor starts preaching all of a sudden it’s like your the only one there, and he’s speaking directly to you. Now multiply that by 10,000.
This past weekend I went with other members of my church to the Joyce Meyers conference at the Giant Center in Hershey Pennsylvania. We started the trip with a stop at Kitchen Kettle Village in Lancaster, the heart of Amish country. We went on a buggy ride, had lunch and did some shopping. We finished the trip with a visit to Chocolate World for dinner and more shopping.
In between Amish Country and Chocolate World was the Joyce Meyers conference. Until this weekend I didn’t realize it was possible to be full and empty at the same time. By the end of the conference I was spiritually filled, but emotionally and physically drained. Not that it stopped me from filling up on chocolate before the ride home.
I attended 3 sermons over a 24 hour period with about 10,000 people at each one. This also included multiple performances by the amazing Natalie Grant. The 3 messages that Joyce spoke on hit me like a spiritual hammer, as if they had been given to her to directly relay to me. The arena was 90-95% full and most of the conference I felt like I was the only one there, which is saying something since the seating had us packed in like sardines.
The first session was on Friday evening and was about forgiveness. I’ve been known to hold grudges for a long time, some since childhood. I’ve lightened up some since I’ve gone deeper in my faith walk, but forgiveness is something I still struggle with. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus replied, not seven times: but, seventy times seven.
One of the reasons we hold grudges is because we are afraid of a repeat offense. Mentally and emotionally I’m still dealing with things I went through in my childhood, and more recently the situations that lead to my pending divorce. At the same time I know I’m not 100% innocent, I’ve wronged people and broken rules. To be forgiven we also need to forgive.
The second session was about not always being a people pleaser. We can’t do everything for everyone, and sometimes it not in our or the other person’s best interest to do things for them. Some people are gives and others are takers, we need to find a balance.
The last session Saturday afternoon is something I’ve struggle with most of my adult life, finish what you started. This goes beyond quitting half way though, it also means stay motivated and not taking six months to finish something you can do in two. You don’t have to wait until the deadline just because you can.
This sermon also had a secondary meaning. We are allowed to be finished. All three tie together in the end. We need to forgive, but we don’t need to please everyone all the time. That doesn’t mean we can’t still help those who have wronged us if we feel called to do so. Sometimes God is calling us on to a bigger greater thing and at times that meaning having to finish something else.
When I walked out of that stadium my head was swimming as it tried to process everything and it still is. I was drained but I knew He was moving forward with His plan in me, which means I need to keep moving forward.