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A Most Important Question

Many years ago, I was part of a group of Virginia Baptist church lay leaders. (Lay means an ordinary church member, not a preacher or someone who is officially ordained) We would be invited to various churches who wanted to participate in a weekend retreat to heal, renew and grow their congregations. The church would plan for months. Then host church would provide homes for us to stay in for the 3-day event. There would be special music, group worship and small group meetings from Friday evening through Sunday morning. We would share our stories and ask to hear from the church family about their stories. In one of the small home-group sharing times there was a very special question we always asked. I cannot remember any of the other questions we asked, but this one was special; and I still remember how I answered in my own story. (Of course, today I may have an updated answer as that was years ago, and I've had a lot more experiences since then.)

In my training for these weekends, I was told that when you ask an important question to wait at least 8 seconds for an answer. "One-thousand and one, one thousand and two...." I would silently count the seconds up to 8 each time I asked this question. Often you could hear a pin drop as people pondered. Sometimes when I was done counting, if no one responded, I might share a short answer of my personal story as an example. No one was ever singled out or pressured to speak, but most eventually would.

Now imagine yourself at one of these events. You have been invited to the home of a church member for a Saturday morning coffee to hear from the visiting lay team. (There were usually 2 of us at each small group-one assigned talker and the other one assigned to pray). You may not be a member of the church having the event. Maybe you're a friend, neighbor or relative of the host. You are sitting in a comfortable chair in a cozy room with about 10 other folks. The lay leaders often ask some ice-breaker questions like "how do you all know each other" or "what type of work you do?" The lay leaders then share a Bible story, devotional and some verses. You are sipping your beverage of choice from fine China (or a mug with a funny saying), and being treated to some home-baked pastry. Then comes the question and suddenly no one is talking. ".one thousand thousand and eight." It's so quiet you can hear the birds chirping outside.

By now you must be wondering what question could do that? Make everyone be quiet? What question, and my own answer, could I remember so vividly after so many years? If you skipped ahead to find out, no worries. You will still need to ponder your answer.

So, I will ask the question once again. Are you willing to answer? If you want to keep it between Him and you that's perfectly fine. It may be too personal for a group or web setting. But if you want to share, we can do a follow up blog with the answers that are shared. Or an individual one for long answers.

The question is: "When was God most real to you?

Stay tuned for a future blog where I may share my answer or some of yours with your permission.

Maybe you have difficulty with this. Don't be discouraged. Jesus said, "...take heart, I have overcome the world." I encourage you to read the Word, talk to a believing friend, attend church. The Word says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."

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