I arrived in Zagreb via Lufthansa on Monday, April 28, and was soon picked up and added to a van packed with wonderful and outgoing people. And I mean packed. We were so overloaded that a truck hauling a double trailer loaded with lumber passed us! But it was a terrific way to get acquainted, as we climbed the mountains in order to get to the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
Once we arrived in Crikvenica, I was fortunate in that I didn’t speak until Wednesday night. That gave me time to recover and get to know people, including my roommate, Greg Smith, author of Dinner With A Perfect Stranger, and co-author of The Rest of The Gospel. He’s a great man, and if you haven’t read his books, I highly recommend them.
I spoke about 4 things: 1) Where is God?; 2) What’s He doing there?; 3) How can I let Him do whatever He wants?, and, 4) How can I help others to the same? (While videos will become available in the near future, you can get an idea about these topics by clicking here.)
Frankly, the first night was something of a wrestling match. Aside from the video not working and the translator having a difficult time with me (we were much better together thereafter), looking at the biblical truth of “Christ in you” was either an invigorating beginning, or it was an electric one. You were intrigued and challenged, or you were somewhat shocked. For some this was an entirely new concept. While by far the majority were delighted and excited, there were a few who had reservations and, perhaps, a bit of fear.
After that, each meeting time was wonderful, even incredible, no matter who spoke. Although the conference was scheduled to conclude on Saturday afternoon, so many people told the conference leader that if I would speak again they would delay their departure, that that’s exactly what happened. And it was truly the capstone. Together we looked at a simple way in which to live by the Spirit. At various times people in the audience were encouraged to say what they were feeling and thinking, and this is some of what we heard: “I feel the presence of God.” “I’ve never felt such peace.” “I’m in awe.” “I didn’t know this could be so simple and so powerful.” “I am humbled.” I imagine the drive home for them was wonderful.
I have never been thanked so much and so deeply as I was in Croatia. It was overwhelming and humbling.
The following morning after a European style breakfast, we headed to the airport and our departures. As God would have it, I sat next to a fascinating family therapist who was returning to the States after counseling at the military base near Frankfurt, Germany. She was initially nervous with me after finding out who I am (I was, too!), but over several hours I learned of her spiritualistic, new age-y type of thinking. Actually, I often dislike those labels because they may provide a template sort of approach to conversation. She was a warm and kind and deceived sort, but we spent hours talking and comparing notes. It wasn’t long before she began asking about my beliefs, and before the end of our flight, I prayed with her about what lay ahead for her life. I fully enjoyed the trip.