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Shaped by God

A few millenia ago when I was working with youth pastors, I wrote an article that really summed up my "belief" about God's manner of discipling us:
“Wanna know what life was like for me growing up? Watch Flipper. That was me . . . only I had a dog instead of a dolphin. I learned to water-ski when I was seven. I learned to sail at eight. I got my first boat when I was in the fifth grade. And I also had a horse. I went everywhere either by water or by horse. If the sun was shining, I was outside. Once I got older, it drove my dad crazy. He’d say, ‘When are you going to start thinking about your career?’ My answer was, ‘Oh, when I’m about thirty-five.’ That’s pretty much the way it happened.”

Eric Partin’s love for the outdoors was one of the definitive characteristics of his ministry to students. Just ask Chris, the 21-year-old worship leader who has worked with Eric since age thirteen.

“Pastor Eric has been like a father to me, really. He’s spent a lot of time with me over the years. He taught me how to surf, how to snowboard, and how to windsurf. He was with me the first time I ever saw snow and the first time that I saw the mountains.”

One of the key lessons Eric learned over fourteen years of youth ministry was that in order to really impact someone’s life, you have to spend time with them. So he used his love for the outdoors to give him the time he needed.

“I’ve taken my leaders on trips every year. We go snow-skiing, sailing, boating, hiking, surfing . . . whatever.” He once took a group of tenth graders to Moab for a biking/hiking/kayaking excursion. “It gives us a chance to learn to trust one another at a much deeper level than I can accomplish in a leadership training session.”

Eric is now a successful senior pastor in Florida’s panhandle, but his ministry style hasn’t changed a whole lot: “Looking back, it is easy to see how God used my experiences to shape my life and ministry.”
In times like these, when the future seems so uncertain, it's easy to forget that God is both in control and that He has a plan for you. And according to the Scriptures, that plan has been in place for quite some time. If you look hard enough, you can see the unbreakable thread that runs through your life, the thread with God's fingerprints all over it. Do yourself a favor and surrender to God and His care today.

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