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October 1, 2014

Unleashed Laity, An Elder’s Personal Thoughts


Stretched beyond my comfort zone

I am an elder.

I am also a wife, a mother, an artist, an art and English teacher, a business owner, and a senior citizen, but, most importantly, I am a person who attempts daily to walk in obedience to Jesus’ instruction and example. As each of you know, this is not an easy task!

My “comfort zone” seems to be constantly challenged by God. It’s not comfortable to answer the knocking at the church door to find a slightly inebriated man searching for a moment of peace, and asking questions about why I believe Jesus is “real.” As we sit together in the sanctuary for nearly an hour, he asks to hold my hand briefly and hugs me after I pray for him.

It’s not comfortable to lead a group of women in Bible study and fellowship when many struggle with the importance of surrendering to Jesus and the need to worship God.

It’s not comfortable to travel alone to regional and national church meetings (I hate flying!). It is not comfortable to participate in meetings where I sometimes wonder whether I have anything to contribute.

It’s not comfortable to juggle my life to include regular Bible study and prayer.

It’s not comfortable to try to convince others that it really matters to be hospitable to those who are different than us, to build relationships and to share one’s faith story with those individuals. I often am short of ideas, energy, competence, and courage, but God uses me anyway because I seem to be available.

Make me a radical for Jesus

So, perhaps this blog is about availability even when we seem inadequate, or perhaps it is about faith knowing that God uses flawed raw material (oh yes, I love the flawed characters in the Bible) to do His work. All I know for certain, is that I yearn to be like the warrior Benaiah (2 Samuel 23:21) who jumps into a pit to kill a lion in what seems to be an amazing act of faith. I dream that I have the faith to “step out of the boat” like Peter (Matthew 14:29) to walk toward Jesus as the Holy Spirit prompts me and to keep my eyes on Him when I doubt. This faith, and the availability it represents, may be exhibited by me in ways that seem “small” to some . . . but God knows how He stretches and empowers each of us and whether we respond with a, “Yes, Lord!” or whether we anesthetize ourselves with all the distractions daily life offers.

There are many other details I could add about my particular role as a serving elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Jerome, Idaho, but instead for now, it is on my heart to challenge every elder, including myself, to be open and to be available to the daily promptings and opportunities raised by the Holy Spirit. My prayer is,

“Please, God, make me be radical for Jesus Christ as you empower and use me every single day!”

Linda Gray 2013

Linda Gray serves as the ECO Council & Synod Secretary. In 1997, Linda joined the Presbyterian Church in Jerome, ID and since then has served as a deacon, an elder leading the Outreach & Evangelism team for 13 years (and counting), a synod commissioner, trained with 3DM, lead ALPHA and a women’s outreach program, and taught Bible classes. She is an art and English teacher who also owns a stained glass business specializing in the creation of church windows. Her husband, Wilson, is a professor at the University of Idaho, and they are the proud parents of two grown daughters, Elizabeth and Katy.

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