It was my birthday this week. You know how Facebook does this thing where, when your birthday approaches, they invite you to ask everybody for a donation to a charity of your choice? I did that once, for the nonprofit ministry of a friend of mine, but mostly I feel weird about it, because I already ask people for money for this ministry (which, by the way, feels weird enough, even though I’ve been doing it for five years now), and also because at least most of the time, I wouldn’t expect anyone on Facebook to do anything for my birthday, besides maybe wish me a happy one, no matter how close friends we are.
On Wednesday, the pilot group for The Walk met for our third-to-last class session, and the Holy Spirit made an appearance, too…really overtly and tenderly loving each participant through the truth-telling words of the others. It was moving and powerful and totally unorchestrated, but at the same time, I couldn’t say it was unexpected exactly. This is because each of the participants, while possibly coming to the class from slightly different places on their spiritual journey (or imagining that they did), also came, I think, with faith and hope: faith that there is Someone out there Who might be more personal than not, and hope that there was even more to this “personal relationship with God” that they had been told about at some point in their lives and even experienced before for themselves. So they showed up every week and put in the work, even when it was challenging or, in some cases, scary, or they were just plain busy and distracted.
Also, every one of these people had previously taken the same approach with Stepping Into the Story, so they were building off an existing foundation. The Holy Spirit has made overt appearances in that course, too; I think these folk still would have encountered the Spirit powerfully through each other on Wednesday even if they hadn’t taken SITS first, but I suspect the Presence was even more palpable because they had.
I just got to sit and watch, and found myself sobbing tears of wonder and joy. It was so beautiful. I don’t know how to describe it really; it was definitely a “you had to be there” experience. And that was when I realized that I actually do have a birthday wish this year: I want you to be there. Give this gift to yourself: Please take Stepping Into the Story. And then–particularly if you have some years as a Christian in (and maybe now out) of the Church–any church–please take The Walk. There’s so much more to this life-with-God thing than I ever thought. I’ve seen it. I’m starting to know it. I really, really want you to, too. That’s what I want for my birthday.