I’m weary of posting this blog on our church page today. I try not to take this spot of your weekly (or more like bi-weekly) reading and use it as a personal testimony or a personal grievance space. I try to write things that are applicable to everyone by using what God is saying to me during that week or in that moment. But today, I think I need to share a personal struggle.
Over the past few weeks, I have seen myself become incredibly frustrated with the Church. I use that with a big “C”, because my frustrations go so much further than just our local community and Greenbrier Nazarene. Once again, let me clarify: I am not writing this blog about something specifically that has happened or is happening in OUR church, it is about THE Church. The global, big “C”, Church. I’m not going to go into what has made me feel this way, because that isn’t the point. The point is: I’m frustrated. I’ve been disappointed, mad, irate at times, sad, dismissive, hurt, and annoyed. And honestly, I didn’t get into ministry to feel this way. I came into ministry to serve the Lord in the way that He has called me, and to try my best to make a difference… But instead of doing that, I find myself competing and comparing. I find myself nitpicking and complaining, and it’s made me really unhappy.
Some of you, I imagine, can relate to what I’m saying. You have a heart for what you do, and things aren’t going the way that you want them to go. You have a vision of how you think things should be. You see how things should happen, when they should happen, and where they should happen, and none of it is happening!
Some of you can relate with me on an even deeper level: You too are frustrated with the Church. Maybe it was a bad experience you had. Maybe you are frustrated with how things are done or how things are run. You could be frustrated with how people who claim to be Christians act sometimes. (Aren’t we all!) Maybe you are frustrated with the response of the church to cultural issues and conversations. Whatever it is, you’re fed up with it. Maybe even, you are fed up with it to the point that you are ready to be done with the Church. I’ve been there.
But last night as I was lying in bed complaining to God and Melanie about everything that I have a problem with (which… you know… takes quite a bit of time), I was interrupted.
There aren’t many moments in my life where I can say that God clearly spoke to me… but this was one of them. God clearly said to me, in the middle of all the complaining: “Hunter, this isn’t about you, and you don’t have all the answers.”
I was floored. Because I’ve been so frustrated with things that have been going on, that I let myself truly believe that the way that I want things to be done is actually God’s will.
How stupid of me.
As I’ve reflected on this moment this morning… I’ve realized what He was saying to me. You see, I can tell you what I would like to see happen in the Church in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years, but my vision only stretches to the end of my life… I have a limited timeline.
God has an infinite timeline. He can see what needs to happen today to make a small impact, that He will use one day to make an eternal impact. I’m slowly realizing that HIS plan has nothing to do with me, and it has nothing to do with what I want. And it has nothing to do with you, or what you want. But it has everything to do with HIM.
It isn’t about us, it’s about Him.
I need you to understand this, because it sounds so simple when you say it, but it is such a difficult concept to wrap your mind around and accept… So I’m going to say it again.
It isn’t about US. It’s about HIM.
Which is a really good thing, because His plan is so much greater than anything I could ever dream up. He is using what we do today to lead up to a renewal that we can’t even imagine. And when we think that we have all the answers, which is how I feel so very often, we are in truth limiting what we think God can do.
Let me tell you something: There is coming a day, whether it’s in our lifetime or (more likely) not, where the gap between Heaven and Earth is closed and renewal and transformation will be abundant. There is coming a day when the work that Christ began in his life, death and resurrection is seen to completion. And we have the INCREDIBLE opportunity to be living right in the middle of this time of transformation in the world.
So how could I think of myself to be so big and so great, that I have all the answers?
Now don’t get me wrong… this doesn’t mean that we can’t still be frustrated. Trust me, just because I’m writing this does not mean that I am all better. Because at the end of the day, the Church is made up of sinners just like you and me. We are all imperfect. That means that people in the church are going to hurt us, and they are going to make mistakes. And it’s okay to feel annoyed or a little angry when something like that happens. It’s also okay to make our opinions and feelings known. But what isn’t okay is to dwell on it, and let it get in the way of us working together to do work for the Kingdom. What isn’t okay is to throw up our hands and say “I’m done! You can try and do it without me!”
We have to realize that the only way for this group of sinners to get together and do the work of Jesus, is to be led and transformed by Jesus. God has to be the head of the Church because He is the only one here that has an eternal vision, and He is the only one that can unify us to make us the truly sanctified, holy Bride of Christ.
So, by all means, God… Don’t let me get in the way!!
I never ever do this, because this is quite personal to me, but I’m going to share the prayer that I have had on my heart today to wrap this post up.
I thank you so much for being who you are. I thank You for being so much bigger than I could ever imagine. You are big enough to carry the weight of the Church that would break the back of anyone else who tried. Thank You for knowing my frustrations, however petty, and for caring about them. I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I’ve let myself get in the way of Your plans. I realize now that I don’t have the answers.
I pray today honestly and truthfully that Your Kingdom will meet us where we are, and Your will be done in our lives, churches, and communities. God allow me to be a small part of Your plan, and humble me when I try to become a big part. Unify Your Church today so that we can show the world Your love and grace. Amen.
Hunter, Creative Arts Pastor