Discipleship

Jesus Didn’t Want My Capacity

The last year of pandemic slowness has given plenty of opportunities for contemplation and the plotting of a new course when it comes to ministry. Even so, I was going at a pretty slow pace before the government sanctioned separation. A small church, few demanding people paired with an intentional embrace of the slower things of life left me with a clearer view of what it was Jesus was after when he claimed me for himself.

I used to pride myself on my capacity. I could manage a number of important things with ease and I was sure the Lord would tap into my efficiency and ability to further his cause. Working in an influential governmental position and still leading at our local church all while embracing married life gave me some sense that I could handle whatever was thrown at me. Eventually the vocation shifted to pursuing education and ministry but my view of my own capacity still ruled. Of course it was pride having the run of my heart but so much of what I heard among my tribe of Christianity and from the leaders of the large church where I worked seemed to demand high capacity personalities if success was to be found.

To that end, I think I was successful. A flourishing ministry, leadership opportunities, a brash personality that seemed to plow through what others couldn’t surmount. It was my resilience, my capacity to manage and move fast that made me appealing. Maybe to some but the deeper problem was that I thought it was what Jesus wanted of me.

It wasn’t.

As I transitioned to a different context, one where it wasn’t my capacity that mattered but my steadiness, I began to realize that Jesus wasn’t after my entrepreneurial mentality, or aggressive style of leadership. He was after what he wants from everyone, my heart.

He desired for me to live a life of repentance and dependence, not trusting in my ability to accomplish but on his power to keep me. He wanted more of the territory of my heart, the corners I have kept to myself he wanted to rule in. He wanted me to surrender to his will and way and that would mean my capacity wouldn’t matter. In his gracious care, he brought me to a season of life to be able to see it. To repent and set out to surrender with each day.

Of course he isn’t done with me. And he is not done with you. You just might be surprised that he isn’t interested in the thing you think he is, he wants your heart. Maybe today is the day to give it over to him. I promise it is a life-long endeavor, but we all need a start.

Here is to seeing rightly, to making the start, and giving Jesus your heart.

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.