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Reflections | Dr. Leighton Ford (Mentoring)

The Fellowship of the Blue Chair

February 6, 2015

“I spent quite a bit of time in the big blue chair.”

Jason’s blue eyes twinkle as he speaks. A thirty-eight year old pastor, he is just back from two and a half days at Lake Norman north of Charlotte. The church he serves is providing for him a two month sabbatical, and he has scheduled a personal retreat with me to think and pray through what he wants to focus on during the weeks ahead.

He and I spent some hours together as he started the retreat. We talked especially about his two questions: am I doing all God wants? And, what do I want to try in the years ahead?

Then he headed to the lakeside condo of friends who make it available anytime a young leader needs a place to pull aside, reflect and rest. Dozens of men and women have spent time there across the years.

Before Jason left I recommended places to sit by the lake, or take long walks, and also told him. “There’s a big blue chair in the sitting room. You can sit there, gaze at the lake, think, pray, journal, take naps!”

Almost always people report back from their retreat and speak fondly of that “big blue chair” and how they sensed God speaking as they sat there. It has become a kind of sacred seat!

So when Jason came back to debrief I said, “I guess you are now part of the fellowship of the blue chair”!

If that chair had ears and eyes it could tell stories of men and women who have sat there. Stories of tears. Sighs. Laughter. Prayers. Perhaps some snoring. The sound of pens scratching on paper as young leaders record their dreams, regrets, new insights and excitement. And gratitude for fresh touches from God.

Another pastor from Texas came worn out and discouraged. I hoped he’d have some nice sunny weather. Instead it rained the whole time. But Frank was not disappointed.

“When my father, a pig farmer, died I was sixteen,” he told me. “As I slopped the pigs wearing his boots the rain poured and my kid sister bawled. I decided I would never cry and I hated rain ever since. But as I sat in that blue chair and watched the rain come racing across the lake I knew I was safe, protected by the large glass doors on the porch. That big blue chair was a place of comfort. A symbol that God would protect me and my family, no matter what.”

Jason came to the retreat with his questions. At the lake he meditated on God’s Word and God’s creation, including words from Hosea about pressing on t know the Lord, and a groundhog that surprised him and stared at him. He came back with a conviction: “I’m going to press on to know the Lord, and start writing – for eternity – about God’s character and how he speaks in all his creation – including groundhogs!”

So The Fellowship of the Blue Chair continues.

And the big blue chair waits for whoever comes next.

Leighton Ford
May 2011




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