When I have a complete change of mind, I’m highly suspicion that God is at work. When that happened to us recently, it got our attention.
We visited a ministry in our church we had wanted to visit previously, but something always got in the way. It’s the Conquerors’ Ministry, a ministry to wonderful, disabled people who are primarily adults. On the way to the church we talked about how we cannot take on something else. This was going to be a one-time visit to learn more about this ministry.
We were thinking together. Even though I’m now retired, our schedule is remarkably full. Family stuff, periodic care for my 93 year old mother, being involved in our church and other ministry, fills our calendars. Guarding time to refresh ourselves is an important goal for all of us, lest we become spiritually and emotionally depleted. It reminds me of a biblical statement: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). When too much gets on our plates, spiritual and emotional fog is a common result. We want to avoid that, yet continue to serve as we are able.
When we arrived at the Conqueror’s meeting the large gathering area was filled with people. Some were helpers, but most of the people were the Conquerors who came to join in an evening food and fun.
I sat in several places during the meal, but eventually ended up next to a special young man who captured my heart. His name is Andrew. Andrew has Cerebral Palsy. His father, Jeff, someone I know from serving as a Trustee with Judson University, is Judson’s Chief Financial Officer. I sat with his son, Andrew, at dinner and gave him minor assistance with eating. He is smart, polite and a contagiously grateful human being. And I found out he loves green beans!
After dinner, during a game time, Andrew joined several of us for a game of tossing horse-shoes (rubber horse shoes) in the hallway. And, in what I was learning is a pattern in Andrew’s life, he thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mary, too, met many Conquerors and assisted some of them with crafts. She, too, was deeply touched by the people with whom she shared the evening. She later had a chance to meet Andrew’s mother, Jean, and found her to be a delightful person. Andrew and his parents are each followers of Christ, and it radiates from them. I discovered in talking with Jeff that Andrew and his father had been baptized at the same time.
When I later tried to explain to Andrew’s dad how much I had enjoyed meeting and spending time with his son, I became emotional, fighting tears and trying to keep my voice steady. Andrew had grabbed my heart.
After the guests left, we helped a bit with clean up, then walked quietly to the car, both of us pondering what we had experienced. Meeting the conquerors was sobering; it was an experience of grace, and grace conquered something in us. We left grateful for the opportunity to be there.
When we got in the car and shut the doors, we sat alone for a moment and Mary said, “Randy, we can’t not go back.” I was quiet, but I knew she was right. Yes, we must be careful about filling our calendars. But we must help with Conquerors again, at least occasionally. It was a complete reversal of our intentions in attending that event. We experienced grace at that gathering: God had changed our minds.
Does God want to change your mind about something?