Earlier this summer Janice and I were in Western New York, and I took some time to visit our alma mater, Houghton College. Nestled amidst the corn fields of dairy farm after dairy farm, the steep hills of the campus made for unusable farmland, but a delightful setting for a college campus (as long as “seclusion” and “delightful” fit into the same sentence for a young co-ed).
Parking the car on the outside of the traditional quad, I was surprised that nobody was there. I mean not a soul. The ghosts of my college past sauntered in my mind unmolested by any living soul. Memories of the
students I learned with elicited smile after smile as I walked past the Student Center and the Science Building, the big central Chapel, then up to the dorm that I both served as an RA and then Assistant Dorm Director in. Not a soul there either, just the memories of a room on the backside of the basement filling the hazy window I peered through.
Then I walked towards the ski hill. Yes, a ski hill. There, a kid from a tropical country learned to snow ski – took it for credit as a matter of fact! What a school! Have you heard of a bunny hill? Well, this was a little bunny hill. A place to learn downhill skiing in the safety of a hill that cross country skiers didn’t fear.
From there I walked into the woods to find the Ropes Course. I took that for credit, too! I’m telling you, it was a great school! The ropes course elements have changed over the years (I was there when the world was in black and white) or at least the locations have. But the challenges remained: walking between one tree and another two stories up along one sole cable; a solid wall that the whole group has to climb unaided by tools; a zip line to test vocal chords; and a platform where I first did the trust fall. They design these elements to look impossible, but conquerable if you try. And safe when accompanied by proper gear and good friends.
As I walked away from the Ropes Course, down a path steeper than the bunny hill, I realized what that college meant to me. It was a safe place for me to try new things, sometimes scary and unimaginable, but when conquered, life lessons that serve me even to this day.
I think that’s what the church is for. I want First United Methodist Church of Boca Raton to be a place where you can learn to be like Jesus. Where you can attempt a life of holiness, and when you or I fall, well, the incline wasn’t that great, and there were a bunch of friends there to catch us.
The church, like that school, is a training ground for life. The training isn’t just for kids. It’s for anybody who doesn’t want to just try to be like Jesus, but wants to train to be like Jesus.
Choose the element on the spiritual ropes course. I look forward to stretching and growing with you.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9,10