2. There are some weeks I read the notes and something immediately pops out at me that challenges the way I had thought. There is a new perspective or thought or information that I didn’t know before. Other weeks, it is more like a marinate. There isn’t one thing, but a slow working away at me that, I believe, is the message. This is a marinating week.
In several places in the notes this week it discusses change. The notes talked about closing and opening doors, disruption, displacement, removal from one place, new endeavors. I don’t consider myself to be particularly change adverse. I have a history of championing changes and improvements in work and the community. But, spending some time thinking and praying about the message in the notes revealed how this isn’t particularly true in my view of church. I’m one of those who grew up in the faith, so my memory of church is a source of comfort and stability. No matter what goes on, how much changes and how confusing things get, I want that comfort that I could walk back into my old church in my old neighborhood and it would be exactly like it was.
But that isn’t the case, nor is it the message that God gives us in these passages. Church is not supposed to be a place that serves as an old security blanket or teddy bear, that we can go back to regress to a happy time when life gets hard. I don’t see much mention of God talking about church as a place at all. In fact, as we read this past week, God purposefully causes the body of the church to be on the move and drastically changing. He allowed the death of Stephen and the persecution at the hands of Saul to send people out of their comfortable spot into uncomfortable places and fearful situations. Then he grabs the most zealous persecutor and brings him in, much to the disbelief even of the 12 apostles 3 years later.
Does God want us to be in turmoil where everything is changing and we can’t even count on the church (or BSF) to stay the same – leaving us feeling like we don’t have any stable place to stand and no safe place to go back to? Not exactly. Here is what I’m learning as I reread the notes and pondered the message:
- God desires perfection. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. My old house or neighborhood or school is not perfect. My kids are not perfect. The church is not perfect. The earth is not perfect. Therefore all of those things must change. For God to leave these things, which he loves, as they are or were, would be for Him to leave them broken. That isn’t love, that is selfishness, and while I may crave that, it is not God’s character. With that in mind, of course they are going to change.
- God gives us a rock to stand on: Himself and His Word. God is unchanging. The scripture is complete. All other ground is shifting sand, but this is the rock that cannot be shaken.
I pray that God continues to teach me to rely only on Him and His Word and to not look for stability to come from other sources. I also pray that He is gentle with me in that process. I know it says He won’t give us more than we can bear, but some days I like the idea of not bearing too much. I also pray that when I walk into a situation where things feel odd and different and uncomfortable because they aren’t the way I want them or remember them that he would send me a Barnabas. Sometimes we all need that person to wrap their arm around our shoulder and help us see God in all the uncomfortable change that is occurring around us. To remind us that God is in control and has a plan and, as scary as it may be, we need to trust His plan and be in fellowship of it, even if we don’t yet have a clue what it is.