Perhaps it is the day after a long night...after leaving one church and starting at another...well, more accurately after the impact of leaving five churches and lately starting at another, I have been overcome by a sense of skepticism, of short roots, of a readiness to be transplanted yet again. My tendency is normally to want to dive in, and this time I dove in on the surface but kept holding back the sense of commitment...not yet...maybe not at all...wait and see... I wanted to see what the leadership here was like. The pastor is young, and I have a tendency to expect immaturity, and inaccuracy, and lack of depth. All I keep coming away with, though, is good surprises. He wants to hold the men of the church responsible for spiritual leadership in their families; that was a remarkable surprise to me that I had not seen elsewhere. I've been challenged by his teaching, which is in fact opposite some that I've heard before...and yet, it makes sense scripturally and I now am frustrated that for 20 years I haven't seen things in the Scriptures that were right there the whole time--familiar Scriptures that I practically have memorized, and yet didn't fully understand. His teaching on some thorny subjects has been careful and clear and good. He knows I've been burned and though any pastor wants to be trusted, he wasn't pushing me.
But a few days back I was talking with him in the hall and I can't remember exactly what we were talking about; but I used the word "yet" as in that they hadn't failed me...yet... And I didn't even notice that I'd said it, but he did. "Yet?" It was a bit of a gentle rebuke but a bit of injury too on his part. All this week I've been pondering what I was holding onto. Was it a stronger position to be poised to leave a church yet again if necessary, or was it stronger to dive in and participate, interacting fully and wanting to know and be known, help and be helped, love and be loved? I saw my hesitation that had been so solid before turning into a jelly mass. I was finding no substance in my defensiveness. No matter how many times people fail me, I have to participate fully, wholeheartedly in church. I have to; it's part of my worship. It's a substantial element of my joy. Having walls up and protecting oneself is akin to bitterness; it's not healthy. My walls are coming down.
I felt a delight at church last Sunday that I haven't felt for more than a year. Since then, at home, I've felt something deep and mellow and almost overwhelming. There's a fine line between incredible joy and depression...what a weird thing! In either you want to cry...I want to cry in relief. God is good. God is faithful. I will attend this church and expect great things. There will be trouble too; that's part of every church with any humanity in it. As long as these leaders follow Christ, I will follow them. I'm thankful for the good things in past churches as well. I've learned a lot of things from them that are part of my faith now, even though I've discarded things that haven't stood up to the light of truth. Even if God were to just have us spend short terms in each church that we attend, if we can do them some good and they can do us some good, that will be His will. I just want to be His willing, passionate, obedient servant. I want to wholeheartedly participate in church. I know it isn't all of faith; the Scriptures aren't all of faith. Jesus is my All in All. Church is where we find fellowship and where we build one another up to go and serve Him in the world--it is not all of what Jesus has for me, but it's a vital element for my equipping, and when I'm not all in it, then I'm withholding myself from the fullness of what God has for me.
I am joyful again. And I am blessed.