There are some pretty significant theological differences between Baptists and Catholics so I wasn't sure if that would somehow be a hindrance to my presentation, but I was determined to be who I am and to let the Holy Spirit do the real work.
Oh, their pastor was there too. He didn't run me off or rebuke me or anything so I guess the Holy Spirit being in charge worked. ;-)
Seriously, it was a great experience for me, and I believe the men enjoyed our time together as well.
I was asked to talk about my experience through Hurricane Katrina, and more specifically, how my faith sustained me and my family through that trying time. I did talk about those experiences, but also about the other storms, the various unnamed storms of life that are every bit as turbulent, dangerous, and even deadly.
When I was preparing, I set out to make some brief "bullet point" notes or outline to follow, but that's never really been my style. In fact, I always work backwards. I write out what I want to say, and then make the outline afterwards. But this time, I just left my presentation completely written out; all ten pages.
When I practiced, I found myself looking at the pages often, and that worried me. There's probably nothing worse than having a presenter read from notes. I think I was worried about what I might forget to say or that I would leave out something that was important.
In the end, as I said, I just asked the Holy Spirit to do the work, and all went great. My notes were there as a security blanket (I guess I will always have control issues) but since the presentation was very personal, I used them probably even less than if I had used an outline instead.
As we prayed afterwards, nearly all of the men picked up on the "storm" theme, affirming to me that all of us are facing some storm or another throughout our lives. More affirming though was that it was evident that the true message was delivered and received appropriately.
That is that we are in the boat of Jesus. It's His boat, not ours. When we forget that we are in the boat of Jesus, when we take our eyes off of Him and focus on the storm - how powerful it is instead of how powerful God is, and what it might do to us, how it might hurt us, what it might take away from us - we are in danger of drowning; in every way a man can drown.
As it turns out, there were a few things that I didn't say, some things I thought were significant, but in the end I guess they really were not.
But here's the point I actually set out to make with this post: I was moved by what I witnessed as the Holy Spirit working in these men's lives. It seemed to be reciprocal. Because we all opened our hearts to God and allowed Him to be in control during that time, not focusing on what separates us but on what unites us, we were able to allow Him to accomplish some new work in all of our lives.
My date with those
Baptist Christian men in the boat of Jesus was a very uplifting experience.
Father, that we may all be One. +++