Today while riding the park shuttle at Glacier my family and I experienced two Sabbatical encounters that reminded me of the fellowship inherent in the body of Christ. The first came on our early morning trip up “Going to the Sun Road” as we chatted with our driver, Bruce. We were part of a quiet and sleepy group of fifteen passengers that dwindled to nine (seven of them in our party) as persons departed the shuttle along the way. Since we were going all the way to East Glacier to start our day, and since you never wake a sleeping baby (grandson Oliver having succumbed to the movement of the trip), we stayed in Bruce’s shuttle for the duration. He was interested in our family and easy to talk with, so soon the facts came out: a pastor, on Sabbatical, with his family (yes, all of them), planning to do a short hike and enjoy the majesty of the scenery. “Welcome to my office,” Bruce said as we rounded the corner to an especially awesome view. “This never gets old” (the view that is – and would I agree!).
The pastor topic having come up, Bruce proceded to tell us about his salvation experience while a young man in the Navy, and how God used the Four Spiritual Laws resource to bring him to Christ. He also spoke of the impact of a Navigators ministry in his discipleship, how others in his family had also came to know the Lord, and how grateful he was for their faith and common identity. It was all shared in a genuine and compassionate way, interspersed with some questions about our life and routine back in the Midwest.
By the time we said our “thank you” and farewell to Bruce at the St. Mary’s visitor center, we felt we had a new friend. He made the start of our day pleasant and memorable.
A few hours later, as we took leave of the west bound shuttle stop at Logan Pass to head black down the mountains, we struck up a conversation with another party, who, come to find out, were among the eight who had left our morning shuttle along the way.
They just happened to be from Indiana – a family of five on an extended cross country trip. He a professor of preaching at Wesley Seminary in Marion, IN; she a primary educator. You can guess we had some things to talk about. In fact I’m glad I was paying careful attention on the ride up the mountains because I don’t think I saw too much on the way back, given the conversation. We discussed the pastoral life (he having pastored prior to the seminary gig), the status of the church today, people we might know in common, books we’d read and written (Im going to have to read his now), and a lot of other interesting content – including their youngest son’s most pressing query: “If a Moose and a Bull had a fight which one do you think would win?”
By the time we took leave from these fellow Hoosiers and servants of Christ, we felt like we’d looked back in time about ten years on our own family’s adventures, even as we are cherishing making new memories with them now – including the next generation.
These two brief but meaningful encounters are a reminder to me of the good that exists among God’s people in our nation and world. They are the latest in a series of such Sabbatical encounters and conversations held over these several weeks from Indiana to Scotland, Ireland, London, Canada and Montana.
And as for that next generation? I think we get to babysit tomorrow while Mom and Dad, Uncle and Aunt take a longer hike. Life is good!