Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Looking forward and thinking back

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…”. As Paul sat in prison, he drew tremendous comfort from remembering the shared experiences he had with a group of Christians who shared the same focus. One can surmise that every time he was reunited with this group he would add to his storehouse of memories and draw ever increasing encouragement from them.

In March I was greatly privileged to have two such reunion experiences with those that I share a partnership. First was the AIM Reentry and graduation. Despite the fact that there were many who I did not know, the connection was instantaneous and the experience was chock full of renewing conversations and inspiring realizations. A special thanks to Tim, John, Joe, Kim and Angela for their input in to what we would want shared with the graduates and those who prayed for God to provide the right words. Despite much frustration in my preparation, when I actually presented the message God’s Spirit clearly spoke to many and I was so thrilled once again to witness His ongoing work in the hearts of those who want His will fulfilled in their lives. As you yourselves have experienced, at the conclusion of graduation they had all AIM alumni, present students, and future students stand and encircle the audience. It was staggering to think of what God has and will continue to do through that group and then, to realize that I am connected to this unique work that God has on earth was genuinely overwhelming. “I thank my God every time I remember”.

Literally, two weeks later, at Aimapalooza, I stood in a room again surrounded by people with a shared heritage and purpose. After all shared together how they saw God working in their lives, we drew in close and begin to sing. The videos will never be able to convey the tangible power that was in that room. It was as if God was restoring my spirit with each passing note. It was amazing and exhilarating! “I thank my God every time I remember”.

In James 1:17, God shares with us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”. So when we experience things that are truly good and perfect here on this earth, a sliver of heavenly light is perceived for that moment, a tiny signal of what is coming for us in heaven. The result is that we carry this small fragment of God’s glory (in the form of a memory) with us to provide encouragement for future days and to serve as a motivational reminder of where we are headed. Though we experience good and perfect things all the time (since God is so good and faithful), these reunions stand out as very potent reminders of God’s love and work among us.

The AIM Alumni Association wants to be a catalyst for creating as many of these opportunities to reunite as possible. Since we are spread out across the world, none of us could attend all of them, but if every once in a while we could connect, how much richer our walk with God would be! This coming September, Labor Day weekend, we are inviting all that can to reunite with those who share a unique heritage and a common purpose. Join us for Aimstock! If you aren’t able to make it, especially if it is too far to travel, I encourage you to begin dreaming about creating an event in your area. We envision a day where events would happen all over the country that would provide a focal point for restorative community that comes from these events.

All of these special experiences of course are a hint. It is as if God is winking at us saying, “If you think this is good, you are going to be blown away by the final reunion.” So, especially if you are discouraged today, I pray that God fills you with courage as He reminds you of the good and perfect memories He has placed in your mind and heart and how those serve to tap you on the shoulder and remind you that the best is yet to come.

- Jason Thornton

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