From February 28 through March 1, I attended the annual meeting of our presbytery in Orlando, Florida. Though I must honestly confess that I normally have a fleshly aversion to these all day, dawn-to-dusk-plus meetings, last week's presbytery was an exciting affair. A few highlights:
- Several pastoral candidates preached, and each message was as crisp and clear as the Florida sunshine. Jason Camery, an intern in our congregation, did an outstanding job. It is a joy to see the Lord raising up men for the ministry.
- Many encouraging reports were given from congregations who are seeing the Lord's blessing upon them. Some of our more rural congregations who have gone through periods of dryness are seeing new families and opportunities; three congregations are building or have found better facilities to house their expanding ministries; our two newest works have gifted men establishing them and seeing fruit; even two very old, small works whose future is uncertain were given the careful attention and respect they deserve.
- Dr. Roy Blackwood, founder of the Second RPC of Indianapolis and one whose vision has led to the establishment of churches throughout our presbytery, resigned so that he might give more care to his wife. Friday evening a touching memorial that included a reception and sharing memories of his influence by the presbyters was held. As one of "Roy's Boys," it strengthened me as I was reminded of the privilege of knowing this man whose vision and love have helped me profoundly.As we enter into presbytery, we constitute our meetings in prayer and sing psalms that remind us that Christ is the King of Zion. These meetings by representatives of the church are times spent with Christ on His holy mountain, the New Jerusalem. I could not help but think of how like Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, we were allowed to see and share in the glory of Christ during this time.
However, upon my return home, I was also reminded of what happened as soon as the disciples came off the mountain with Christ. They were immediately confronted with the brokenness of this world as a man brought to them a lunatic son who threw himself into fire and water (see Matthew 17:9-20). On Sunday night my mom, whose struggle with depression I have chronicled before (see "On Depression" or "Mourning atop a Blue-Green Hill"), ran away from her assisted living apartment. She is absolutely certain she hears people talking about her, plotting to arrest her for staying in her apartment, and no amount of talking or reassuring her will convince her otherwise. So she keeps a bag packed all the time, and this weekend decided it was time to go. Fortunately some unidentified man saw her walking alongside the road and brought her back in his truck. These last two days have been spent trying to reason with her, working with the staff, making yet another one of the endless adjustments to her medication, and deciding on her future care.
Why share this? Why tell you of how helpless I feel? Why take such a personal matter and make it known? Two reasons. First, to warn you to believe. Having watched my mom descend into the pits of depression over the past twenty years, and having been her chief caretaker the last three, more than ever I believe the ultimate cause of these things is her inability to believe in the gospel. Over and over through those years she has hardened herself to the proper response to God's offer of forgiveness and life, quietly but stubbornly and persistently rejecting what has been offered to her. In turning to pills to deal with the anguish of her soul (even as new research is raising questions over the effectiveness of clinical drugs in treating depression), she abused them and her mind has been so altered that it has become the playground of demons. If you have anyone in your life heading toward this hellhole, warn them to seek the Christ who can take even demoniacs and put them in their right mind.
The other reason? To plead with you to pray. When the disciples asked why they could not drive the demon out of the boy, Jesus rebuked them for the littleness of their faith. He then said with faith as small as a mustard seed, they could say to "this mountain" to move, and it would move, for nothing in Him was now impossible. Could it be that rather than just a simple proverbial statement, the mountain to which Jesus was pointing to was the one they had just come from? Could it be that He was saying the glory they had just witnessed up there, through faith and prayer, is now mobile and would come down to the rest of the earth? So even as I am tempted to give up, might I ask that you pray earnestly that my strength would be renewed and that God's glory would come down?