Faces on Faith: God’s serendipity
Many years ago, just before I moved from being a teacher and coach to ordained ministry, my wife Rosemary and I attended a “Serendipity Workshop,” led by Lyman Coleman, who for the past 40 years has been a leader in small group ministry. Serendipity means the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, or more simply put: Surprise!
More than 1000 people attended the event that day, and early on, we were paired up with someone we had never met before. During the next eight hours, through open sharing of faith and life, a stranger became my friend. What a surprise! But the serendipity went deeper; through the sharing of our faith journey, we experienced “agape” love, or loving with no strings attached.
What was powerful was the absence of judgment or the need to “fix” one another. I left the seminar with much more than knowledge and resources for small group ministry; I was filled with the fullness of God! Over the past 40 years, serendipity has given me fuel to continue my journey of faith.
After retiring in 2012, I began working with young people who were seeking to discern what God was calling them to be and to do. What a serendipity this ministry has been! Listening to their faith stories, I was surprised at how many had experienced tragedy early in their lives.
One that stood out was the young woman who was born as a quadruplet (one of four), and at 12 years old, her mother passed away. I wondered how she, her three siblings, and her father were able to overcome such a tragedy. But here she was, sharing her heart and wanting to serve the Lord in music and youth ministry. She, and so many other young men and women, have inspired me to continue following where God might lead.
So may I end with a question for all of us where is God leading you?
” let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us; fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
No matter what we might be experiencing, God will show up and we will smile and say, “thank you for the wonderful surprise!”
The Rev. Larry L. Marshall is the pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.