I arrived home today from Louisville after being there for T4G. I have so many thoughts, I'm not sure where to begin. My thought as I begin this is that the cup of coffee I'm waiting for (and which I will have in about 10 minutes) will taste really good. I didn't get a lot of good coffee this week. I'm not a big Starbucks lover, and I like my french press coffee.
One of the things about events such as this is that one must move from speaker to panel to speaker to bookstore in such rapid succession at times, that she has little time to process each thing before moving on to the next. I find myself wanting to go back to hear those sessions that I felt the most strongly about. It's hard to think something over in the brief time (often as little as five minutes) between sessions. My thoughts about the speakers will probably formulate better over the next couple of days as I process things.
I can say that the enduring image I will take with me from this conference was the very moving and powerful message given by David Platt. I'm going to listen to that again for sure.
The venue was an arena, and that carried with it issues, I think. The lower exits weren't open, and on those occasions when we sat on the floor, when we filed out of the building (or had to go to the bathroom) we had to climb all the way back up the stairs. I don't know why the lower exits were closed. The lighting was not great, and the spaces cramped, but the screens provided were excellent. On the first day, we had the misfortune to sit an angle where the echo was very problematic. Imagine hearing C.J. Mahaney with a pronouced echo. It was like having two of him, which was very tiring! We found better seats for the subsequent sessions.
The lineups were long, and yes, it was crowded. There were so many sessions that there was never really a moment of down time, so I didn't see all of the sessions so I could have time to rest. I felt really claustrophobic after hearing C.J. Mahaney, so I sat out in a lounge area while Al Mohler spoke. There were 7,000+ there and 98% of them were men, so that was really odd, sitting there watching Al Mohler in the louge area on a screen, in a sea of gentlemen. I think having a crowd that big in the area of Louisville we were in (which was beautiful!) was a problem, too. It was hard to stand in line for 30 minutes to get a very quick bit to eat and race back to the sessions. The bookstores weren't open during the sessions, so if you wanted to shop without a massive crowd, you had to be there right when the doors to the bookstore opened. However, considering the excellent selection of good books I got, it wasn't such a big deal.
The fellowship was wonderful; it really was. We met up with Staci and her husband, whom we already had met last year at the Gospel Coalition Conference. That was a sweet reunion, and we enjoyed great fellowship with them. This year was the first time I had met in person Frank Turk and his wife, Tara. I also me Dan Phillips, whose wife was not there, unfortunately; hopefully, there will be a next time that will include her. We also met and really enjoyed fellowship with David Kjos and his wife, Kelly. It's so great to meet people whom you feel like you've known for a long time. David was kind enough to provide the musical sounds of Gordon Lightfoot for me while we travelled in his van. We spent a lot of time laughing together with all of our friends, talking about spiritual truths. I rose to the occasion and said the word "eh" in the presence of David and Dan at the same time, despite my efforts to avoid the word. I was also blessed to have some time to visit with my sweet friend, Darlene Johnson and her husband, Phil. This is the third time we have been able to be with her on her birthday, and we enjoyed sweet fellowship. We were truly blessed and re-freshed by the fellowship with our friends.
I'm sure as I think about things and mull them over, I will have things to share about the whole week. Louisville was a beautiful city, and we had great accommodations. The bad part was, though, that even though I had lots of fodder for good photographs, there was not a lot of time, so I was not able to do a lot of that; maybe next time.
I was thinking on the way home about the fact that this conference exists to encourage pastors. I am not a pastor, but I found everything had a value for me. At the very foundation of every message there was the gospel. That undergirding foundation of the gospel is what ought to guide my every step, my every thought, my every word. Continually understanding the implications of the gospel seems to me to be the best way to teach any Christian. The exhortations given to those pastors was useful for me, too, as a teacher, as a Christian called to bear the gospel, as a mother influencing my children. There are probably a lot of women who would have thought there was nothing there for them because not one session was directed toward them as women. I didn't feel that way. I felt convicted and challenged at everything I heard. It was rich teaching. I feel full. Over the next while, I'll digest it a little more.
It was a blessing, and I was thankful to be there.