IMG_2167We have been putting off our vacation as long as we could.  In my employment we must use our vacation by the end of the fiscal year.  We may not carry over vacation time.  My first year on the job has been very busy and the learning curve has been high.  There has not been any time to take off for a break.

Finally, by force of the calendar we are off from work for a few weeks.  My bride and I laugh since we have been so busy that we have not had time to plan for our time off.  The first few days has been just decompressing and planning our days away.

Providentially, we noticed that the Southern Baptist Convention Pastor’s Conference was scheduled during the first two days of our vacation.  This year this amazing event was being held in our city of Houston.  We decided to write that into our vacation plans.  We are so glad that we did.

The speakers were powerful and effective.  Their convictions translated into inspiration for all of us in the audience.  It was easy to tell that they had pastoral experience and knew the struggles of the thousands of shepherds who had gathered in the Brown Convention Hall.  Healing, encouragement and resolve were happening in this massive room.

Worship set up the ministry of the Word.  The choir, orchestra and worship staff of Houston’s First Baptist Church masterfully drew in the lives and variations in culture representing the largest denomination in the country.  Music has a way of unmasking the soul and massaging it to receive the ministry of His Spirit.

We even found cheerful friendly people around us.  It was more than the cursory glance or courteous nod in other venues.  Together we shared the scars, the hopes, the disappointments, the terrors, the loneliness and the dreams that come with our common calling.

It is dubious at first whether worship can take place in a sterile cavernous place like a convention hall.  There is little aesthetically that lends itself to seeing God in the middle of concrete, exposed HVAC ducting and electrical conduit.  Yet, slowly, surely and spiritually the souls of many who have been set apart for a special service took over what the physical eye can see and allowed what the spirit alone can see dominate the gathering of special lives.

This is a great way for us to start our vacation refreshment and revitalization.  Amazing!  We are grateful.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography