Good Morning Brothers…
(Please welcome a ‘guest’ contributor this morning)
Occupationally I serve as the youth pastor at Crossroads Christian church, due to this, summers are an extremely hectic time. In order to accomplish the goals before me, I have developed a very “get’er done” mindset. For over a month now I have found myself in need of post-summer soul care. This usually involves a body of water and me holding a fishing pole in my hand. Thursday morning I woke up at 5am, ate a quick breakfast, grabbed my equipment and headed to the pond that is located just outside of Oklahoma City about four hundred yards outback of my brother’s home.
I began my journey through the myriad of metal fences and across the pasture, as the immensity of the solitude began to forcefully grab all of my senses. This realization caused me to slow my gate and look up. As I looked into the vastness of God’s creation hanging above my head, my feet came to a complete stop. I then found myself spinning around in several 360-degree circles, like a little kid at Six Flags for the first time. Unable to see everything at once, I stopped spinning and said “Hi dad.” This is a common way of relating to God for me. This morning it was my acknowledgment that I had let way too much time go by with looking up and staring into his wonderful eyes, peering at me from the edge of the cosmos.
By now, it is 5:30 and I find myself standing on the bank of the lake staring at the water, and a bobber that is not quite visible due to the hesitation of the rising sun. All of this is fine because this time was never about fishing anyway. Sitting down in the sand (ok, it was Oklahoma red clay, but sand sounds better) I was deep in a conversation with God that had started in the pasture. Just as I am pouring my heart out to God I began to hear coyotes wake up in the distance. Not having a pistol on me, this lead to an amusing thought about whether or not I could outswim a hungry pack of dogs…..anyway, my mind does crazy things at 5:30 in the morning.
What is this story about? Well, I am glad you asked. One of the things that God has been hitting me with lately is the burden of The Church to serve as His priests and ministers to a broken and hurting humanity. As the sun came up on Friday morning, I was in a position to be ready for whatever God had in store. Normally, I sleep through this part of the day. On this morning the day is not something that “happened” to me but instead there I was, waiting for daylight to break over the hill so that I could begin my assault on the unsuspecting bass population. As it turns out the bass had nothing to be afraid of. No, this experience did not teach me the wonderful merits of regularly getting up at “John Van Bruggen O’clock”. What it did, was serve as a wonderful analogy for how the Church could benefit from “waking up early;” assuming our role as the dispenser of God’s grace, mercy, and gentleness towards the world.
This experience has turned my heart to dwell on the story of the woman at the well that we find in John chapter four (reference John 4:7-30). There is a ton of theology in this passage but for the sake of this article I want to focus on her return to her village. This lady did not go back into town and let her community “happen” to her. Think about this for a minute. Most of her adult life had apparently been spent on the outskirts of her own community. Their judgment and condescension had completely disabled her voice within her hometown. But now, she had drunk from the well, having her soul examined by the great physician. This time spent with the maker of her soul, positioned and empowered her to go back into town and tell everyone who she had encountered at the well and all He had done for her. The testimony of this single, insignificant, socially ostracized woman, captures the spiritual curiosity of an entire community. Are you like me? Do you long for this type of reconciliation for your town?
So often, it seems that The Church finds herself reacting to the culture that is around us. The Church is a reality that should be “happening” to our towns. Our culture should not be what is “happening” to the Church. What would take place if The Church, the Body of Jesus, the Bride of Christ made the decision and necessary commitments to “happen” upon our communities? What would it take for the Lord’s Church to pick up our savior’s deep longing for the hurt, pain and brokenness of the world? Might I suggest that part of the answer is simply…waking up sooner. If the Church wants to have a testimony to share with the world, we must meet our savior at the well, in a tree-stand or on the bank of a lake. Are we, as members of the body of Christ, willing to let God examine our hearts, sort through our broken places and confront the idols and sins that exist in our lives? The only way for the Church to speak into our world with any level of relevance, is if we are willing to spend time being examined by the God of all creation. Maybe then, we will look out and realize that the Church has perfectly positioned herself to “happen” to our towns and communities instead of finding ourselves waiting to “react” to whatever the culture throws at us next.