In a world where church and religion are derided, writing something like that on a blog seems uncomfortably cheesy to me.
But I hold very dear these moments of clarity that sometimes befall me, and feel it is important to capture it as best as I can.
In the two years I have been at Hope Church, I have at different times felt discouraged, worn out, silly, lousy, and to borrow Paul’s words in Corinthians, hard pressed on every side. And yet this morning, as my church went about celebrating its 13th anniversary, very unexpectedly, the tears started rolling down my cheeks…
How I wish I had a camera with me to capture what I saw this morning. Sitting there, looking around, I saw people of every age and colour loving people and loving the Lord. I suddenly realised the fruit of what we’ve started here. What a privilege to be part of it.
In 22 years, I’ve lived in four different places, and been in four different churches. I’ve always been involved on some level – having been taught the importance of loving Jesus and serving the Lord. But no where have I needed to love and be loved by such a wide spectrum of people, and no where have I felt more acutely that church is tough. It’s requiring something of me – that I’m not sure I’m willing or able to give.
In a conversation with a church leader a few months ago, I asked, “Why do we do it so tough?” A bubbling cauldron of indignation and resentment welled up: Why do we have to wake up at 7am on Sundays and lug all the music equipment to locations that keep changing? Why do we have so many meetings? Why does serving never stop? Why, why, why…
In these furious moments I have often yearned for the comfort of other things. Less hectic things. Seduced by challenges that are more inspiring. Enticed by environments are are more conducive, whatever that means.
Perhaps my personality does not allow me to settle for halfheartedness, but I count myself fortunate not to have made major decisions based on those self-centered whims.
But on days like today, I think I’m exposed for the fraud that I am – the big-mouthed fool that thinks she can and is going to change the world. Well, how impossible without seasons of molding, yielding and testing! Changing the world costs. Why, changing ourselves costs enough to begin with. Humanity’s shared problem is exactly that: it hurts our ego to admit we need serious help. It’s embarrassing.
Grace, grace overwhelms – grace from the battle-scarred who’ve been here and done this for much longer. Patience from fellow sinners who bear with my grumbling and murmuring and halfheartedness. Love, to encourage and insist that I stop frantically digging other wells and tap into the Source of Great Strength. And faith-inspired perseverance that moves me deeply.
So uncomfortably, I remind myself again today that I am sticking with this – this prayerful, persevering church.
The other petty voices, I will choose to silence.