Recently, I decided on short notice to start training for the Honeymoon Half Marathon. I clearly was late to the training game. In my typical fashion, I just started training as hard and fast as I could. I didn’t really have the luxury of time and even if I had, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Not surprisingly, I injured myself. I did something… still not fully sure what, but something that hurts real bad. I talked to a friend who is an actual runner (not just a guy who runs). He asked me, “What are you doing with your days of rest?” I told him I wasn’t really taking days of rest. I just kept running like Forest Gump or something. He told me, “You have to let your body slow down to catch up to itself. The days when you slow down are just as important as the days you go out and run.”
“Also, you should probably apply ice and elevate your leg.”
Have you ever just had to slow down and look around?
That’s why I started this blog was to take time and slow down and look at what God is doing all around us. The way He is providing is not small. It’s not something I can do, not something we can even do. He is doing something, I know for me, I just have to slow down and look around.
I remember living in Dunedin for a couple of years. Every night during the summer people would gather on the pier. As we stood on the west coast, overlooking the sun setting over the water, people would suddenly begin to slow down as they walked by. Bicyclists would come to a stop to watch the sky turn a million shades of pink with orange overtones and hues that cannot be better captured by the imagination than by the work of a Creator.
Have you ever sat and watched a sunset that simultaneously feels like it will never end and still it wouldn’t be long enough?
Those are the moments we soak in. They’re too few and far between. As parents, as professionals and just as people we spend too little time soaking in moments.
As you may be aware, at Restoration, we have a Management Team. These are some of the people who I, personally, trust in wisdom, experience, and perspective. This team is made up of: Gary Garmon, who is a lifelong family friend and my former pastor; Tom Bates, a man whose ministry (even in his retirement) continues to have an impact on this area; Dave Bushnell, a former colleague and consistent friend who is currently working with the Willow Creek Association and the Global Leadership Summit; and David Holewinski who represents our local congregation and gives me insights which are invaluable.
We had our first meeting altogether (through the magic of video conferencing) just a couple of weeks ago. In this initial meeting, much of the conversation was simply to catch everyone else up on what’s happening at Restoration. This team of battle-tested and experienced men in ministry collectively showed their visible excitement and near disbelief as I described the amazing people in who are already a part of Restoration. These are the types of people that you would dream of having in any existing church and we have them already in place from the start!
As I explained our new partnerships in our community as well as the partners within our church, the team was encouraging and excited. But as is typical with me, I kinda just kept moving sweeping past the amazing and pushing onto the next agenda items and next challenges to conquer.
After the meeting, Dave Bushnell sent me an email. The subject was simply titled:
And the message read:
Dear Restoration Partners,
Tuesday afternoon I was on a video call learning about Restoration Church. It was a moment where I undeniably saw God. Story after story about you – Restoration Church was shared. You are clearly an incredible group of people. A group that brings an amazing skill set. A group that is clearly interested in Restoration thriving. A group that doesn’t just talk about investing in the community, a group that actually invests in the community.
My hope is that you see God as you look around the room. This caliber of people, this set of skills, this level of commitment doesn’t just happen – it is a clear expression of God’s activity. Soak in this moment. Soak in the reality that you are in the midst of a powerful work of God. Indulge in the assurance that you are part of something that is impacting lives.
Keep up the incredible work! You are breaking the mold not just on what it looks like to start a church, but also on what it looks like to be a church.
C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “When the most important things in our life happen we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on. A man does not always say to himself, ‘Hullo! [yes it says ‘hullo’!] I’m growing up!’ It is often only when he looks back that he realizes what has happened and recognizes it as what people call ‘growing up’.”
We are beginning to grow up. As a church, we’re growing together. We’re learning together. And I’m so grateful for each and every person who is a part of what’s happening. And while there’s still so much work to do, before we move onto the next thing, we have to stop and recognize the important moments that are all around us. We have to stop and soak in the greatness of our God and the goodness of what He is doing in our midst.
KEVIN STAMPER | LEAD PASTOR | @KEVINSTAMPER