Discipleship

What are you doing?

As I sit in the dealership waiting room, expecting my name to be called as my oil change is done, I found myself in lament and praying with a directness I haven’t noticed in a while.

“What are you doing God? What’s the end point, the purpose?” After hearing a series of stories of pandemic strain on lives I think a gear is shifting for me.

Through the last twelve months I have talked about expectancy and leaning into God’s sovereignty. Of course he is at work and followers of Christ should want to come out on the other end evidencing that they have been with God.

His providence carries us through. Let him have his way.

This is still my message. I still believe it, and cling to it all for my own soul. But I am getting restless.

When will the church thrive again? When will the collective anxiety of humanity be relieved? When will revival come? When will uncertainty shift? What are you doing?

I don’t expect an answer today, though that would be nice, but I also don’t think God is dismayed by the question. Where else can I go with my restlessness? There is no safer place.

Because Jesus is our refuge, in trouble, he responds when we come to him for help. We can pray with restless hearts and voices. He hears. We can lament loss and uncertainty. He hears. We can admit we don’t have all the answers. He hears.

And he is working. We might not see it, or understand the goal, but he is holding us, and with open arms welcomes those that come to him.

Today, come as you are, restless or not. He hears.

Discipleship

Being Seen

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend. In public, on a patio of course because we are experiencing a pandemic. It was good to talk of life, blood pressure, sleep patterns, relationships, past mistakes, investing, and living close enough to the church you call your own.

My friend doesn’t live all that close. He commutes on Sundays (when we gather in our building). Like most others that call our congregation their own, there is a distance traversed to worship with friends becoming family. He mentioned though noticing that many of our young members have been moving. They have been moving closer to the geographic center of the church rather than further away.

Should church be a place you drive great distances to or another part of your neighborhood? I used to have stronger opinions about the question than I do now, but the desire conveyed by my friend resonated with me. He wondered if we should hope to run into church folk in the grocery store or on walks in the neighborhood. Shouldn’t we be seen by each other as we are living, and moving, and having our being? We desire to be seen, it is part of community.

Our church is small so it would be hard to see each other in the wild in a crowded city. But that doesn’t erase the desire for it.

The tension is probably enhanced because we have experienced nearly a year of being prevented from physically being near people outside of some Sundays. We are exhausted with Zoom and want so badly to belly laugh around a bottle of wine with the whole crew. And the loss of that increases our desire to be seen and see each other wherever we are.

Build community where you. Move to community you have claimed. Perhaps it’s both, actually it is both. And trust the Lord has put you in the place he has called you. He sees you.

After I left the lunch I realized the desire myself. I ran into a member of our church on the bike trail in the afternoon and saw a dear lady in our church driving her mother a couple blocks from our house. It was good to see them and be seen.

I pray that you can find community in the same way. That you long to be closer to. That you know you belong with when you see each other. That is defined by being known by Jesus.

Discipleship

Looking Back to Look Ahead

The first Sunday of the year is probably my favorite as Reservoir Church gathers. We sing of Jesus, encourage each other from the word, and take turns recounting the ways God has been faithful in previous year. It is a special time that serves as a reminder to me and a spur on to what lies ahead in the year to come.

For sure 2020 was no poster child of good years. All of humanity has lamented the year given the pandemic. Pairing that with social and political upheaval and economic uncertainty, it was a hard year to see the forest for the trees. But God was faithful.

People shared how small group life was an anchor for them not just as a comfort but as a place of refinement as groups already committed to each other delved into difficult issues to pursue biblical truth. There were stories of relational reconciliation, the kingdom going forth across the globe, and God’s sustaining empowerment for the work he has called us to and placed us in. I shared how the congregation was a great encouragement to me for the way they have remained unified to our mission and each other even while being broadly diverse in opinions of the pandemic and politics. There were plenty of stressors in previous year but it is still a joy to pursue Jesus with these people.

From these reminders of God’s faithfulness we move forward, into what might be better than normal. All for his glory.