The weather on Wednesday was warm and welcoming, and the evening just the same. But here came the entire class - save one - arriving just as they had for the eight weeks prior - with smiles on their faces and eager to learn. Financial Peace University (FPU) will do that to you.
I had gotten to know the group a little bit in the first couple weeks. Now I was just stopping in to say "well done," and "thank you" to Jan (and Bob), the facilitators. However, the mood in the room was so electric that I had a hard time walking away (to a separately scheduled task). Their voices were filled with friendly affirmation - you could tell that they had become a group. In some ways I was jealous that I had not been a part of it.
One could only wonder how - after nine two-hour sessions - people could be so excited about budgets, discipline and saving? Well it's all about the materials (they challenge you with great information), the speakers (entertaining while they hit you between the eyes), the facilitators (you feel so comfortable) and the Spirit of God (bringing his exciting, joyous peace in areas almost unimaginable a few months prior). You could tell that everyone in the room was receiving what they came for … even if they also knew they had a long way to go.
And then I said we were already receiving calls on when we would be offering it again. When I suggested this coming autumn, the times (7:00-9:00 p.m.) and dates (beginning Wednesday, September 18) came from the group. Before I knew it Jan was signed up to be the facilitator (its her passion). And when I said that I figured everyone in the room was qualified and ready to help her, no-one blinked an eye! That's what I call exciting peace.
My mind went back to the end of the Pentecost story in Acts. "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." (Acts 2.42-47) Both groups - the one from long ago and the one of last night - were filled with the excited peace that only the Holy Spirit can give.
And then I looked beyond those two groups, and realized that, over the past ten days, I have been involved in at least a half dozen individual conversations (many of them on the topic of baptism) that all have the same potential ... initial steps for people who are looking for that same exciting peace (even if it might, at this time, be beyond their imagination). God is at work right here and right now. And, as much as I enjoy the summer, I can tell that I am already getting excited about what God has in mind for the fall.
My tag line today was, "What were you doing Wednesday night?" However, the real question is "What are your plans for the fall?" Better yet, "What do you think God might have in mind for your future?"
Exciting peace is what he has been giving to ten people who have been meeting together for the past nine Wednesday evenings. Exciting peace looks to be on the horizon for another group scattered throughout our community. Might it be what God in Christ has in mind for you as well?
"To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3.20-21)