Friday, January 01, 2016

Moving On - Eleanor Shepherd

During the past week, I have had the opportunity to be with 16,000 mostly college age students and their leaders at the International Mission Conference in St. Louis, that is sponsored by InterVarsity called Urbana.  Although such a setting can be quite intimidating for an introvert like me, it was also inspiring and encouraging to see the enthusiasm and the fervour of these young people and to listen to them tell of their own faith journeys.

One thing that really struck me was the passion that these young people had for those in the world who are being persecuted for their faith.  As some of the stories of these experiences were shared the young people did not hesitate to gather around the banners of countries where people are suffering and join together in prayer for those were suffering and daily wrestled with the challenges of not having the freedoms that many of us take for granted.

One of the threads that I found running through so many of the inspirational talks and the workshops was that for faith to be real it has to be lived out in the world in which they live every day.                      There is no point saying one is a follower of Jesus and they  not treating others with dignity and

respect.  I found in these young folk a genuine desire to be what they say they are and I value that greatly.  Too often, I felt that in our generation we acted in a way that was expected, even if that did not reflect who were really were.  The lack of authenticity in that stance evoked a reaction in the next generation and I believe that as a result they are working at developing a more authentic faith, that makes things messier that we were able to tolerate.

This attempt to be authentic, also permits those of us who are older to admit that we have not always been what we said or even thought we were.  It gives us the freedom to recognize the error of our own actions and attitudes and repent of the ways in which we have placed barriers to the transmission of faith to the next generation.  It also gives us patience with them, in the knowledge that they too will not get it all right and will also need to step back at times and acknowledge their errors.  Perhaps it will not take so long for them to do so.  At any rate, as we make allowances for each other we are able to offer grace to one another.

This has been a good way for me to finish off what has been at times a difficult year, with some challenges both personally and professionally that I was not anticipating.  It also gives me hope and confidence for the year to come.  With age, I am increasingly aware that my footprint is becoming smaller and that of those who follow me is growing larger.  Watching these young people and learning from them has given me hope that their desire is as great as mine was to make this world a better place and they will exert their efforts to do so.  May I be gracious in stepping back so they can take centre stage and fulfill God's dreams for them, knowing that I can trust them to give it their best shot, and God will be as faithful in honouring their efforts as He has mine.

Word Guild Award

Word Guild Award


Glynis said...

Well said, Eleanor. I think we need to do exactly as you say - allow the younger voices to be heard. They will be our future. Encouragement is our responsibility as believers. Too often we talk a good talk, but forget about exercising our words with the walk. Thank you for a brilliant beginning to our new year. Bless you.

Peter Black said...

Thoughtful, kind and hopeful. Thank you. As Glynis says, "Well said, Eleanor." It must have been quite a thrill to be at Urbana.
I identify with your insightful realization: "I am increasingly aware that my footprint is becoming smaller and that of those who follow me is growing larger." ~~+~~

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thank you, friends for your kind words. It was a privilege to be with these young people who are so passionate to make the world a better place and to see social justice, particularly for the oppressed. I love their courage and determination and carry them in my prayers.

Ruth Smith Meyer said...

Young people are such an encouragement to me! I, too, love their honesty and desire to be who God made them to be. As I get older, that appreciation just increases, for they are the ones to take up the task to spread the good news. It may be different than how we thought it should be done, but that is good.

D. Bentley said...

Thank you for your insightful, authentic words! I agree... the younger generation is better at being honest about their struggles as they grapple with living out their faith. They inspire me, yet sadden me as well, that I couldn't be as true. However, during the years we have left, let us live up to who Christ calls us to be.

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