Have you ever experienced an event that was perfect from start to finish? Dr Stephen Maturin, one of the main characters in Patrick O’Brian’s spectacular naval series “Master and Commander”, uses a particular phrase when one of his tricky espionage escapades, difficult emergency surgeries, or challenging nature observations succeeds without a flaw; he says, “It was the completest thing.”
Last Friday night was just such an event for me. Several weeks ago a friend, Tracey Finck, told me that writer and speaker Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer – Pastor,Martyr,Prophet, Spy was going to be at Bethlehem Baptist church in Minneapolis, and she asked me if I would be interested in attending. I think I jumped out of my chair, yelled “Yes! and circled the date on my calendar before Tracey had finished speaking. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to hear this excellent writer speak about a man who was one of the most outspoken opponents to Hitler during the Third Reich. Both Tracey and I had read Metaxas’s book, and had been amazed at how in-depth the biography was, and how powerfully the author had conveyed the role that family, education, faith in Jesus and courage had played in Bonhoeffer’s life. (Read Tracey’s comments on the book here: www.traceyfinck.com)
The evening would have been wonderful if all we had done was attend the lecture, but we had also been invited to have dinner before-hand with Ben and Betsy Alle, Tracey’s daughter and son-in law, who attend Bethlehem Baptist and were the first to pass on the information about the upcoming event. Plus, the “we” had grown to include Becky Hagstrom, a friend of Tracey’s – so the evening became kaleidoscopic, and was turned into a beautiful, multifaceted celebration of making new friends, enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal (lasagna,salad,homemade bread,individual mini chocolate-molten-lava-cakes with whipped cream and espresso!) and gracious conversation, topped by an incredible lecture that was as funny as it was profound and challenging.
We also had the honor of meeting the delightful Mr. Metaxas.We spoke with him briefly, had a book signed, and took a few Kodak-moment pictures – along with the 1300 other people who were at the lecture. Metaxas said he would stay until midnight if that’s what was needed to greet those who wanted to meet him. I wonder how late the meet and greet went? We were fortunate to be almost at the head of the line, and saw Metaxas sprint from the front of the church to the table where the signing took place – in the back of the church, of course. Eric Metaxas embodies energy, humility, wit and intelligence wrapped up in a life committed to furthering the Kingdom of Jesus Christ – it was inspiring to see and to be a participant in the Bonhoeffer Tour.
But was this all? No. On the way home there were cold coffee drinks and snacks – a drive-home picnic prepared by Tracey – plus we discussed the lecture and associated subjects on the hour-long commute. Oh, and did I mention it was a lovely winter night with a full moon?
God’s favor and blessing were wonderfully evident that evening, and I will always treasure the memory of it. Plus, I also think that now I truly understand what Dr Stephen Maturin means when he says, “It was the completest thing.”