Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Miracle on 14th Street--Wesley Foundation E-Letter (Methodist Campus Ministry)

Hey Everyone!  Hope you all had a great weekend and are rested for a new week!  Just one week to go before Spring Break.  Yahoo!  (And not the search engine, Yahoo, but the exclamation of great joy, Yahoo.)  I know that you will be blessed this week as you get ready for the many adventures that Spring Break brings.  You are all in my heart and prayers.  This week, here is what’s happening:


TONIGHT:  Worship @ 6:30 in our chapel.  We will be answering the “What” question of faith.  In other words we will be looking at the content of our faith.  If God is our focus, what is it that we believe about Him?  How do we know if it is right or not?  How can we tell if we are being misguided?  Come and find out the answers to these questions and more!


THURSDAY:  Free Meal & Program @ 6:30pm.  We will be taking time to put together our Outreach ministry for this spring.  Come and help us choose songs, scriptures, skits, etc.  We will also start putting dates on the calendar for visiting area churches and telling them about what God is doing at the Wesley!




If you come to the Wesley Foundation, you will notice there is a cross on the concrete connecting the sidewalk to our door.  I’m not sure how it got there.  A few weeks ago one of my students brought it to my attention.  And she was amazed.  I had noticed it before, but I just believed that one of my Jesus crazy friends had anointed the sidewalk with oil or something.  I mean, if people could use oil to signify that something or someone has been separated unto God for His special purposes, why not a concrete entrance ramp?  So a couple of days ago I asked my crazy for Jesus friend if she knew where it had come from.  She told me she hadn’t even seen it, and no, she had not poured oil on our concrete.  Now I am amazed.  (See Brittany, you were right—God has shown up in a big way!!!!)  And even if someone did pour oil on our entrance ramp, it would have washed off a long time ago.  Only God knows how it got there.  Every time I see it I am reminded of Jesus’ words:  “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  And here’s the really cool thing:  Anyone who comes into our ministry house must pass over the sign of the cross to do so.  And everyday that I walk into our building I am reminded that I must die to self so that something much better can be given life within me.


Not sure what your daily dying or denying looks like, but here is mine.  Yesterday was my day to go to Nashville to see my spiritual director.  I think of it as my monthly spiritual pilgrimage that helps keep my soul healthy and my head screwed on right.  But getting out of town is a bit more difficult now with a new baby thrown into the mix.  So from the beginning of my day I felt like I was rushed, anxious that I couldn’t enjoy the special journey that keeps me nourished and able to do the work God has called me to.  On the way to dropping the kids off at Nanny’s, Isaiah found a toy fire truck and was holding it in his lap.  Once we left the house I began our morning ritual of asking him what he wanted to pray for.  He said Lightning McQueen and Mac.  So I began to pray for Lightning, Mac, and the rest of our family.  As soon as I began though, Isaiah began making siren noises.  At first I thought, “if I say something he will just want to do it more, so I will not say a word and he will tire of the noisemaking soon.”  No such luck.  In fact, the more I prayed the louder the siren noises got.  And what I really wanted to do was turn around and shout, “Hey, keep it down!  I’m trying to be spiritual here!”  Then I remembered the way people with grown children speak longingly of those days when their kids were small.  So I held my tongue.  After all, I decided, maybe it was just a sign that I needed Jesus to come and fight the fires in my life.  Maybe that’s what prayer is anyway, our way of calling upon God to come to our rescue.  And Holiness is like a fire anyway.


Eventually I was able to get the boys settled at Nanny’s and myself onto I-65 Southbound.  I made a brief stop at Hobby Lobby and bought a new journal, but instead of leisurely browsing and getting coffee and a bagel at Panera’s next door, I left realizing my time was quickly fleeting.  See, I’ve been visiting my aging grandmother who lives in Nashville before going on to my appointment.  When I started these visits, it just seemed like a natural thing to do because she lived so close to where I was headed.  How could I not when I my journey took me almost directly to her house?  And then last October my grandparents’ house burned.  Now they are living in an assisted living facility, and, again by God’s grace, just minutes from where I go for spiritual direction.  My short visits seem even more important now.  Getting there yesterday was a bit more frenzied.  I got caught in traffic, making me ten minutes later than I wanted to be.  Once more I felt rushed and anxious, longing for a day empty of an agenda without the pressure of time restraints.  And yes I did indulge in the thought that it would be so much easier to just skip the visit.  But once I was there, it was just so good to be there.  I realized how precious those few moments were.  And I remembered that someday I will not have the opportunity to visit my grandparents.  Someday they will go home to be with the Lord.  As I was leaving, Grandma said she really enjoyed being with me; we hugged several times as she walked me out the door.  Making my way to the next stop my whole feeling about my day had changed; my soul was charged with gratitude.  Something so simple had become something so Holy.  During my time with my spiritual director, we spoke of interruptions, how they are really invitations to a deeper life.  In fact, as she reminded me of Henri Nouwen’s words, interruptions are our ministry.


As I began making my way back home, I stopped at a favorite coffee shop.  It’s the place I go each time on my journey home to reflect on what I’ve learned, writing the God messages in my journal so I won’t forget, preparing myself to return to life in Bowling Green.  I noticed that there were new faces at the counter.  An older woman waited on me.  She seemed a bit confused by the whole thing.  Once I ordered she set about making my drink.  She was trying so hard to get all the elements right, to be attentive, and to figure out the crazy expresso machine.  Finally my drink was just about ready when one of the other workers remarked that they didn’t have decaf expresso.  So she had to start all over, going to the back of the store to get some ordinary decaf coffee to make my latte.  I was so tempted to say, “never mind, I’ll stick with caffeine,” but for the first time in my day, I didn’t have to hurry.  And my head was still spinning with the deep things that came forth from my heart earlier at my appointment; I just didn’t have the energy to chase after her.  It crossed my mind to be irritated with this woman for the slowness, but ultimately I didn’t even have the energy for that.  So I just waited.  Eventually she returned with my drink, she rang me up, and took my money.  As I turned to go, she said to me, “Thank you for your patience.”  And I could tell she really meant it.  For the first time it dawned on me that patience was what she needed the most; then I remembered how grateful I am when others are patient with me.  Once again I felt the press of the Holy on my heart.  He really is so near.


I feel like I spent a lot of yesterday dying to self, experiencing the press of the cross on my life.  I’ve titled today’s ramblings “Miracle on 14th Street.”  I’ve discovered that miracles are much like seasons.  Some miracles we would choose.  They are the ones where the gift is obvious, abundant, and beautiful, like new life bursting forth as the glory of Spring.  But then some miracles choose us.  Like the certainty of winter, where things look very dead, empty, and barren.  Several things about winter strike me as I consider the trees having lost their leaves.  First is that one can finally see what the tree is made of.  Its trunk and branches stand in stark relief against the pale winter sky.  How beautiful to see the structure and the symmetry laid bare.  I marvel even at the tenacious growth of those trees previously cut back.  New branches sprout and take new life beyond the cut places.  Even though it is obvious where the branches were first sawed off, new sticks grow around and fill in the empty places.  This miracle is often hidden in the spring and summer time.  And then I am reminded that it is in winter that the roots go down.  Something that looks so dead is very much alive.  The growth of those roots makes longevity possible, especially for those times when there is little rain to sustain new growth.  That tree has developed in such a way during the winter months to dig deep for nourishment, drawing from the place of its birth everything it needs to survive.  And really, without those winter months, Spring never happens.  In this way the miracle of the cross invites us to die to self so that the precious Life, more abundant Life, of Christ may be realized within us.  So that God’s glory is manifest for us.  So that He can draw all people to Himself through us.  I believe that this is a miracle that has chosen us at this time, in this place, in this Lenten season.  It is an invitation to deny those first self-centered impulses in favor of a Christ consciousness that changes the atmosphere we’re living in.  And that is our reason for being:  to put a human face on God’s love; to create a safe place for students to meet Jesus; to discover who we are in Christ, and to take the love of Jesus beyond our own four walls.  So join me friends.  The Holy is near, and His cross presses upon us not as punishment or correction, but so that Christ may be lifted up, and we can bring Him near to everyone we see.  Winter may be here now, but soon Spring will burst forth with joy and reckless abandon.


This is me trusting,







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Sami Wilson

Campus Minister/Director

WKU Wesley Foundation

United Methodist Campus Ministry




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