Our recent trip to Nashville revealed many wonders. The Opryland Hotel, with its acres of atriums, waterfalls, walkways (many at treetop level) cafes, restaurants and elegant architecture is a marvel to behold and a privilege to abide. The classes were Spirit led, opened with sincere prayer for guidance and open hearts, both psychologically researched and scripturally sound. Our “extra days” got us a river boat cruise, some neat music shops (including a chance personal encounter with Brad Paisley) and some time downtown on Broadway where many music legends were born.
There is a lot to like about Nashville, in my opinion. It has not lost its “small town feel.” People have time to talk with you, take an interest in you, and for the most part, exude that traditional southern warmth. Driving through town, you never have a sense of being in a metro area, as the lush trees and greenery flank the roads and highways. As you look across the landscape, you see trees, rolling hills and rooftops, not sterile subdivisions, concrete and pavement. It’s probably a matter of taste, but for these reasons, I like Nashville a lot. Then there’s the music-- everywhere. Open air downtown, in the restaurants, and concerts. The hotel has a free shuttle to The Grand Ole Opry where you get a blend of old and new style music in a fun and professional atmosphere for about $40 a person. On Friday night we saw: Jimmy C. Newman, Lonesome River Band, The Whites (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou), Josh Kelley, Jimmy Dickens, Jesse McReynolds, The Mclymonts (Aussie Sisters), T.G. Sheppard and Exile.
Back in the hotel, as I walked among the other 6,999 conventioneers, I observed a sea of diversity. There were the guys with $100 haircuts and tailored suits, the women with stylish shoes that came off the minute they sat down, and the folks in tattered jeans and tee shirts, looking like they would, I assume, on a typical Saturday afternoon around the house. Some were outgoing, making eye contact with easy smiles, many were in their own little spaces and following their own little road maps for the day, oblivious to those around them (probably an urban phenomenon I have left behind or forgotten). A chance encounter on one of the shuttles with one “pastor” with a gift of prophevcy was a standout. Within a sentence or two he was ready to judge a particular church’s growth as being “like a cancer” because it shares some seeker sensitive principles in its approach. His communication was one way, and I could see that he was most definitely a prophet. His disclaimer, “I don’t have the gift of mercy,” seemed to get him off the hook for a lot…
On the plane coming and going, I read “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. It is a challenging book, and I recommend it with the assumption that the reader is mature enough not to take any book outside the Bible as gospel. It is our job to search the scripture and take the contents in prayer to Spirit to ask him to reveal to us what we should learn and become. That being said, there is a section in the book where he asks regarding our geographical setting: “What would be different in the kingdom of God if you were not there?”
In reading that sentence, even in the wonderland of Nashville, with all that I enjoy and even prefer there, I longed to come home. I think this is one of the ways we can know that we are in God’s will (at least for now). If we feel the tug to be with those we minister to and with, even when the world dazzles us with its splendor, then I think we have found a home.
Yes, it’s nice to be home again. I am so thankful for the place God has carved out for us here, to bless and be blessed by the family of God. I am grateful for this place between the mountains to (hopefully) be a lamp on a stand to those who seek, and to serve shoulder to shoulder with fellow travellers on the ultimate road home.
"God can testify how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus." Phillipians 1:8