Reflecting on Sunday evening group time
By Nichole Morell, a senior from Birch Bay Bible Community Church, Blaine, Wash.
It was Sunday night at the 2011 Mennonite Brethren National Youth Conference in San Antonio. We had just finished listening to one of our speaker’s sermons and were leaving to have a group study with our own youth groups. The sermon was good I decided. Our speaker (Paula Simpson-Parry) had spoken about letting God’s flood flow through us to splash upon those around us, so that God may enter their lives as well. She explained that sometimes there will be things trying to hold us back from that flood, and that sometimes the thing holding us back is our ignorance about the power of forgiveness, that sometimes the only way forward is to forgive those around you.
I understood this message and could see where it might have applied in my own life. But I didn’t really get it. It was when we split up into our own youth groups to further discuss the sermon that I finally started to understand what she was saying.
Our youth pastor began the conversation. This did not surprise me, he is our leader after all. But I was surprised by the content that he spoke of first. Instead of immediately encouraging a stimulating conversation between us, he started by asking for our forgiveness. He spoke of not fulfilling God’s call to him in every way and not being the Christian man that he knew he could and should be. I was bewildered by this request. I have known him for four years and he is the strongest Christian leader that I know of, save our senior pastor. But as he continued his explanation of his request, I could see what he was getting at and was compelled to tell him that I forgave him for whatever fault he might feel he had given us.
After this we started to talk about what kind of waters we want to flow out of us and what kind of waters we want others to see flowing from us, and where we stood in those waters. I spoke of wanting people to see a woman that is free and willing to give to and help others. I want people to see a woman that succeeds in everything she does. But furthermore, I want people to see that my successes come from God and his flood within me. I confessed that while this was what I wanted, I had only waded in as far as my knees and had not taken the plunge of faith into the depths of the flood.
From this we transitioned into what might be holding us back from taking that plunge. During this conversation I felt God flick a name in front of me. I thought, “Ok, yeah, I know this person. So what?” He poked it. “Ok, ok so you want me forgive her.” Another poke. “Alright I’ll call her after this.” Poke. “I get it, God. I’ll forgive her but right now we’re in the middle of a conversation. I don’t think it’s the best time to flip out my phone and give her a call.” Poke, poke. “I get it! Here! I’ll write her name down and I’ll call her but not at this moment, ok?”
After our group dispersed I fulfilled the action I thought with God and stepped aside to call her. During our conversation I confessed to her that I hadn’t forgiven her when I said that I had beforehand and then proceeded through a few tears to ask for her forgiveness for refusing to let go of everything. Although she is not a believer, she agreed to do such.
A close friend of mine also had just finished a phone call of his own. On sight we could both tell that we had been crying at some point in our conversations. We ended up sitting down and talking about how God was working in our lives just then. When he told his story about his phone call I heard God tell me to make another phone call, and when we departed I ended up doing just that.
I called my mom and spoke about what I had learned and felt, and planted a seed in her heart as well.
I often refer to this day as “the day with the really hard stuff, but really good stuff.” I grew and became stronger within God during that weekend at San Antonio. I’ve been able to complete a really hard, but really good thing, and know that in the future it will only become easier to forgive those around me; that God will make me strong when by myself I am weak. I left that conference with a inspiration to serve and look forward to the next moment where I can let God’s flood flow through me to help others.